Coupons Drive More Purchases; Wealthy Increase Use

October 7, 2009

The use of coupon websites among Americans is on the rise, especially among the highest education and income brackets, according to a survey by coupon aggregator RetailMeNot.com, which found that coupons are now the deciding factor in purchases for nearly one-third of consumers.

Results of the Second Annual Benchmark Survey on Consumer Coupon Behavior, which was commissioned by RetailMeNot.com and conducted by Harris Interactive to measure trends in online shopping and coupon usage, also showed that consumers are continuing to spend less in the current economy.

Less Money Spent on Gifts

Nearly half of online adults (45%) plan to spend less money on gifts this holiday season compared with last holiday season, the same percentage as in 2008, the survey found.? This, RetailMeNot said, indicates? a consistent, significant downward trend in spending. To save money, 62% of online adults look for coupons for online stores, and 12% never make a purchase without checking an online coupon website first, a notable jump from 8% last year.

Couponing Rises Across Board

The survey also revealed that coupon use in the current economic environment is on the rise across nearly all demographics, but is highest among the employed and educated (college graduated):

  • ?29% of college graduates use coupon websites to find good deals, compared with 24% of those with some college and 20% of those with an education level of high school or less. In 2008, these numbers were 23%, 20% and 20% respectively.
  • 27% of online adults who work full time or are self-employed use coupon websites (up from 22%); 22% of online adults that are unemployed use coupon websites (up from 18%); 25% of students use coupon websites (up from 23%); 18% of retired online adults use coupon websites (up from 14%).

Coupons Define Spending Habits

Consumers are increasingly defining their spending habits by whether or not retailers offer coupons, the study found:

  • 30% of online adults will not make a purchase at an online store if they can’t find a coupon for that store, up from 27% in 2008.

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  • 22% of online adults will go to a different store to make that purchase, up from 20% in 2008, while 8% will wait until a coupon is available to make the purchase (same as 2008).

Large Families Flock to Coupons

Large families and homes with children are also one of the fastest growing demographics using coupon websites:

  • 30% of online adults in households with children use coupon websites (up from 24% in 2008); only 22% of online adults in households with no children use coupon websites (up from 20%).
  • 31% of online adults in households of five or more use coupons (up from 15%); only 15% of online adults that live alone use coupon websites (down from 17%).

Additional survey findings:

  • 40% of online adults who use tools or websites to find good deals when shopping online in the Midwest use coupon websites, compared with 35% in the Northeast, 34% in the South and 29% in the West.
  • The largest age group to use coupon websites is 35-44, with 41% of these online adults who use tools or websites to find good deals when shopping online, including 47% of these women and 34% of these men, using coupon websites.
  • Married online adults who use tools or websites to find good deals when shopping online are significantly more likely to use coupon websites, at 39% compared with 29% of these single or never married online adults and 21% of these divorced online adults.

“Consumers are more aware of their spending than ever and are very active in trying to find the best deals,” said Guy King, co-founder of RetailMeNot.com. “Coupon websites are still growing rapidly in popularity, with nearly two-thirds of consumers checking for coupons when they shop online.”

King cautioned that survey results suggest that retailers that don’t offer discounts not only jeopardize customer loyalty but could take a significant hit to the bottom line heading into the holiday season.

A study earlier this year by IRI and Platform-A year found that online coupon clipping is gaining steam among younger demographics.

About the survey:? The survey was conducted online within the US by Harris Interactive on behalf of RetailMeNot.com between August 28 and September 1, 2009 among 2,175 US adults ages 18+. The data has been weighted to reflect the composition of the online US adult population on the basis of internet usage (hours per week) and connection type. However, the survey is not based upon probability sampling.

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