Friday, December 5, 2008

The Ways Consumers Are Shopping Smarter

Coupons have always seemed like a hassle to me. I’ve never been organized enough to keep track of them. In this digital age, it seems like coupons should be stored electronically on my card or my record at the stores I shop, so the savings happen automatically instead of my having to keep track of another piece of paper.

With the economy the way it is, I may be learning a new skill. Stuart Elliott’s story in the Dec. 5 issue of the NY Times proclaims the humble coupon as this season’s must-have. The story quotes Lance Saunders EVP and head of account planning at Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis, an agency owned by the Interpublic Group of Companies “Thrift is the new normal…There’s no stigma to getting anything on discount. Instead, there’s a sense of pride.”

In research with homeowners this week, we asked what they are doing to save money these days. Nearly everyone said they are paying attention to the coupons they get in the mail, find online or in newspaper inserts. In fact, more than ads, it’s the coupons they are remembering and using.

Our findings are consistent with data from the Coupon Council of the Promotion Marketing Association. Up until two years ago, coupon penetration had declined steadily since 1992. In 2006 it increased to 86% of the population saying they used coupons and it went up again in 2007 to 89%. Preliminary results for this year indicate a jump to 94% penetration!

Our findings are bad news for those who make their living from traditional advertising. Seems TV, radio and print ads are not getting through the noise of the season and the economic gloom and doom.

According to our research, here's what consumers say they are doing more than ever to save money:
  1. Doing it themselves
  2. Deferring it
  3. Comparison shopping for the best deal
  4. Relying on coupons
  5. Scouring the internet
Most of the people we talked to get coupons even if they’re not in a store’s loyalty program. They get them in the mail, the newspaper, email, or go online and print them out. They seem to manage the paper flow just fine. I'm still hoping a digital form will catch on. What about you? Are you clipping coupons yet?

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