Study: Coupons Make Consumers Blush

couponsA new study shows that while American consumers are using coupons more than ever, some are still a little ashamed to be the ones holding up the line as they rummage through their purses to find them.

About 22% of Americans say they are uncomfortable using coupons in grocery stores, reports ICOM Information & Communications, a market research firm based in Toronto. But the rough economy and rising grocery prices are helping people get over it: Another 57% say that while they're self-conscious about redeeming coupons, their desire to save a little money trumps any twinges of embarrassment.

The biggest change is in younger shoppers. About 26% of consumers 35 and younger say they have less inhibition about using coupons than they used to--with 20% saying they were embarrassed at one time, but are not now because of the need to save money, while 6% say they are simply less self-conscious.



"In a down economy, even the most stubborn consumers are receptive to money-saving offers," ICOM says in its analysis. "This is a perfect time for brands to engage desirable consumer segments with offers that appeal to their frugal mindset."

The report also finds a strong upswing in coupon use, with 43% of the 3,000-plus respondents reporting that they have increased their use of coupons in the last six months, and 67% reporting that they plan to rely on coupons even more in the future. By age group, 57% of those 35 and under have stepped up their coupon use, as have 40% of those between 35 and 54, 36% of those between 55 and 64, and 25% of those 65 and older.

Although the study focused on supermarket shoppers, coupons are also gaining influence and power for other channels, particularly online. Hitwise, an Internet tracking firm, dubbed the recently wrapped-up holiday period the "season of online coupons," reporting that traffic to about 70 coupon Web sites jumped 17% in November and 12% in December, with department stores, computers, and appliances & electronics among the most frequently visited categories.

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