Coupons enable cost-conscious consumers to save money on the goods and services they frequently use. As a marketing tool, coupons can help drive up sales and promote brand or store loyalty, leading to an increase in repeat customers.
The first coupon issued in the United States was believed to be a ticket for a free glass of Coca-Cola, issued in 1888. Grape Nuts soon followed, offering one cent coupons for discounts on cereal. Today, billions of dollars are saved thanks to the use of retail and manufacturer coupons.
Although coupons help people save money, they also serve as important market research tools and a means to advertise products. Today, coupons come in many different forms.
According to the coupon provider RedPlum, 76 percent of coupon-seekers utilize newspapers as their primary sources for deals and coupons. Coupon book publishers and those that produce coupon magazine vouchers still promote paper coupons, which remain popular among consumers. However, thanks to the ever-growing popularity of mobile phones, digital coupons have carved out a place in the retail environment. Savvy shoppers use both traditional and digital coupons to earn big savings, according to Valassis, one of the nation’s leading media and marketing services.
Digital coupon is a broad term used to represent various deals offered in digital form. Rather than clipping paper coupons, shoppers can access online and in-store discounts in various ways. Some of the coupons available to consumers include:
· Downloaded coupons: These types of coupons can be downloaded from a company’s website, through email or through social media.
· Mobile coupons: Mobile coupons are created by ecommerce platforms to drive mobile shopping.
· Coupon codes: Shopping online has contributed to the rise of coupon codes. A code is entered at the point of sale, and the discount is automatically deducted.
· Loaded coupons: One of the more popular ways to redeem digital coupons, particularly those offered by supermarkets and other high-volume retailers, is to “load” coupons to a smartphone through an applicable store app. Shoppers often create an account that is tied to their store’s loyalty card number. By browsing the online circular or sales/coupons listed in the app, consumers can select the deals they want to load to their accounts. The deals are then redeemed at checkout either by scanning a code or automatically when the loyalty card is activated at the register.
Just like traditional paper coupons, digital coupons feature expiration dates. Many such coupons are only redeemable once and are not subject to doubling unless advertised.
For time-strapped individuals, digital coupons can be an efficient way to save on products without worrying about forgetting paper coupons at home. However, paper coupons still are widely available and continue to dominate the discount market.