American Consumers Still Love Paper Coupons

April 5, 2019

Some 92% of consumers say they have used a coupon at some time, and about half of those (45%) report using coupons either always or very often. Millennials, who have experienced some financial strain, have seen an upswing in the percentage of those who always use coupons — up to 30% this year from 21% last year, according to the latest annual survey [download page] of coupon use from Valassis.

Fully half of adults in the US prefer to get coupons in the mail, a figure that has continued to rise over the past 3 years. The proportion of respondents who prefer to get coupons from a coupon book found in a newspaper continues to also rise, from 42% last year to 44% this year.

Despite a slight rise in the preference for paperless discounts, more adults still prefer paper coupons, despite the ubiquity of smartphone ownership across age groups. Some 42% agree that they prefer to get paperless discounts from the internet that they can download onto their store shopper/loyalty card. And even though a smartphone offers the convenience of carrying coupons anywhere, just 38% say they prefer paperless discounts on their smartphone/mobile device.

The use of mobile savings apps has stayed relatively consistent from last year. The most popular of these are grocery/drug/mass stores and/or supercenter savings apps, used by 56% of respondents.

The use of cashback/points apps is also relatively stable at 47% this year.

Consumer preference for paper coupons is reflected in their high usage of them: fully 91% claim to use some form of paper coupons, compared to 93% last year. This shows that the use of paper coupons is deeply ingrained as an American consumer habit. Data from Kantar Media shows that even as the number of paper coupons circulated has dropped by 12%, the number of digital coupons available is just a small fraction of the overall total.

It’s worth noting that coupon usage, while still high, decreased somewhat for all but one category:

  • 88% use coupons received in the mail (down from 91%);
  • 87% use coupons found in a store (down from 89%);
  • 87% use coupons from newspaper coupons books (up from 85%); and
  • 70% print coupons from their computer (down from 80%).

By comparison, the use of paperless coupons has remained steady at 75% for the second year.

Paperless coupon use is particularly high among Millennials (96%) and parents (92%). Parents are also the biggest users of paper coupons, with 95% of parents and 96% of Millennial parents using coupons received in the mail, store, newspaper or printed from their computer.

The full report, which contains many more findings, is available to download here.

About the Data: The results are based on an online survey of 1,000 adults, with responses weighted by factors obtained from national census data to provide appropriate representations of demographic groups at summary levels.

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