Food marketers drastically cut their use of coupons last year, issuing 13.1% fewer coupons than they did in the prior year. That amounted to 305 billion coupons, a decline of 8.1% in all categories, reports NCH Marketing Services.
Still, the Valassis-owned company says in its annual analysis, 2011 coupon distribution was comparable to 2007, with 20 billion more coupons -- a 7% increase jump -- available to shoppers. And the $470 billion of coupon value in 2011 is a 26% increase from 2007.
But the last three years have been an intensely active couponing period, with coupon tactics varying across industries, as marketers come to terms with the many ways deal-conscious people are now looking for savings.
Coupon-craving consumers redeemed $4.6 billion in savings, a jump of 12.2% from the year prior, and a 58.6% increase from five years ago.
As a result of this shopper love, marketers are increasingly tinkering with the terms of coupons, including shortening expiration dates (average offer duration was 9.9 weeks in 2011, down from 10.4 weeks in 2010) and adjusting face value. (It remained about the same at $1.54, but grocery coupons declined 3 cents to $1.17, while health and beauty coupons averaged $2.09.)
More people redeemed coupons at mass merchant and drug channels, reducing the share of those cashed in at traditional supermarkets. “A combination of factors may have contributed to this trend, including an increasingly greater selection of food items available in the mass merchant and drug channels; consumer shopping choice migration; the influence of gas prices on shopping distance and frequency; and increased emphasis on marketing stores with coupon promotions,” the report says.
"The year was a very unique one for coupon trends in many respects," it continues. "Overall trends were not representative of what marketers were doing across the board for every offer, brand, category or company. Many altered their course as the year progressed or changed their tactics. Much of the changing trends in 2011 were a result of marketers managing and leveraging heightened consumer demand for coupon savings."
The 10 fastest-growing categories, in terms of volume of coupons, were haircare; eye care products; candy and gum; cosmetics; butter and margarine; sanitary protection; first aid; vitamins; shaving needs, and dried fruit.