Affluents, Coupons, And The Implications Of A Female-driven Marketplace

People are often surprised to learn how frequently Affluent consumers use coupons and other forms of discounts. Our latest barometer, conducted in late January 2012, again revealed relatively strong interest in coupons of all types, along with widespread and frequent use. Among Affluents, defined here as the 58.5 million adults living in households with at least $100,000 in annual household income, we found that:

  • 71% use paper coupons once a month or more; 47% do so at least once a week
  • 54% use online coupons once a month or more; 23% do so at least once a week
  • 58% have gotten some kind of “deal of the day” offer, most commonly from Groupon (46%) or LivingSocial (25%), but with significant numbers (5-12%) trying new or more niche-oriented offerings such as those from Amazon, Google, GiltGroup, and Woot.

Just as telling: coupon interest and usage shows little or no drop-off if we examine more elite financial groups, such as those with $250,000+ in household income, or those with $1+ million in assets. The fact is that a strong value-orientation and “love of the deal” are felt widely and strongly among Affluents; they are deep-seated elements of the consumer psyche that were intensified, not created, by the long-running economic downturn. Today’s “deal of the day” and group coupons further boost interest by tapping into additional hot-buttons – the desire for novelty, and the quest to be “in the know” – that add cutting-edge angles to long-standing promotional tactics.

Although interest in discounts cuts across many traditional demographic groups, and reaches well into the upper economic strata, there is a very clear gender difference: women outpace men by 10-20 percentage points on most measures of coupon use. In some ways, the prevalence of coupons across both genders (but led by women) may reflect a broader and more fundamental change in the marketplace, and in society more generally: the continued ascension of women into leadership roles – in the family, in the marketplace, and in society more generally.

That’s a conclusion supported by “Women, Power & Money,” an on-going survey of women we conducted and commissioned jointly by Fleishman-Hillard and Hearst Magazines. The first wave of the study, conducted in pre-recession 2008, set out to examine “today’s successful woman,” and found that virtually all American women consider themselves successful, and have defined success on their own terms; moreover, the study concluded that she had become the de facto CEO, COO, CFO and CPO of most American households.

Wave Four of the study, released last month and titled “Game Changers: Women Defining the New American Marketplace,”* found her impact has grown even more profound, concluding: “her influence within the family, and in broader circles as well, has led to an amplification of her preferences – in a very real sense, her preferences have become the de facto defining preferences for today’s marketplace.”

Several factors have converged to shape these trends, creating a perfect storm of environmental conditions that favor marketplace approaches more characteristic of women:

  • A persistent economic downturn, favoring value-orientation, frugality, pragmatic expectations from brands, cautious investing decisions, and a willingness to delay gratification.
  • The proliferation of information and choice in the marketplace, favoring thoughtful, considered, and researched purchasing decisions.
  • The emergence of social media, which expands one’s sphere of influence, and has shaped the attitude that one can and should express opinions (women are more likely than men, for example, to be a friend/fan of a product or company on Facebook).

On a tactical level, these trends have made the market ripe for coupons and discounts, across genders and income groups. More profoundly, they have fostered a fundamental shift in marketplace values, and marketplace power.

* “Game Changers: Women Defining the New American Marketplace” from Fleishman Hillard and Hearst Magazines represents the fourth wave of the ongoing study: "Women, Power & Money." It can be downloaded here.

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2 comments about "Affluents, Coupons, And The Implications Of A Female-driven Marketplace".
  1. Ronald Stack from Zavee LLC , February 15, 2012 at 11:44 a.m.
    Not at all surprised that affluent consumers take advantage of opportunities to spend money. Even the "1%" isn't lighting Cohibas with $100 bills - if they ever did. All consumers want value as part of the shopping equation, if only because no one wants to feel ripped off. The challenge to luxury marketers is to inject value into the consumer proposition without cheapening the brand or disrespecting the affluent consumer.
  2. Ronald Stack from Zavee LLC , February 15, 2012 at 11:44 a.m.
    Er, should be opportunities to "save" money.