Which Coupons Motivate Online Shoppers?

A new survey reveals some interesting findings about consumer habits and behaviors with online coupons.
Business Writers
September 10, 2012

Think a coupon for 25 percent (or more) off would be sufficient inducement for customers to Tweet or retweet a deal?

Think again. A new survey says just 17 percent of respondents would spend a 140-character missive on you—though that number is up from 12 percent last year.

What  would customers be willing to do for a 25 percent price reduction? Two-thirds (67 percent) said they'd Like a page on Facebook, and 79 percent said they'd sign up for an e-mail newsletter.

Coupon site Red Plum surveyed some 9,100 customers online for their fifth annual Purse Strings Study. The study found that even with mobile deals, traditional couponing—scissors, circulars, and all—has not gone the way of the telegram: 79 percent said they were using circulars more to plan shopping trips, using more print coupons and using more mobile coupons than last year. Of those surveyed, 82 percent said they were using more online savings. (Total saved: Up to $50 per week.) 

Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) said they spent up to two hours weekly hunting down savings. The number of respondents who reported comparing prices both online and in print is up 9 percent over 2011.

"These findings indicate that consumers are still very interested in savings and have developed a forever frugal mindset," said Lisa Reynolds, vice president of consumer engagement for media company Valassis, which conducted the survey. "They have become so accustomed to searching for value that these deal-seeking behaviors have become second nature to them. They clearly value the dollar as well as their time."

Use of mobile couponing and apps is up over 100 percent from 2011. It's up in all income groups, though especially in the less than $20,000 income level group, where use has more than tripled.

In the past 30 days, 21 percent used smartphones to access a coupon in an e-mail—the top use for couponing via phone, though not by much. Some 19 percent said they used their phones to compare deals, 18 percent downloaded a coupon, and 15 percent used a coupon sent via text message. And 12 percent said they looked for deals via social media.

Grocery deals remain at the top of the list for coupon-clippers (or clickers), followed by dining out/restaurants and clothing. But interest in other categories is starting to rise: Travel-coupon-hunting is up 29 percent from 2011. Services such as dry cleaners and hair salons are also prime targets for coupons, with 25 percent more respondents looks for deals in those categories.

How do shoppers spend the money they save? The majority (60 percent) said it went to basic necessities—though that figure is down 16 percent from 2011. Long-term savings, such as college or retirement, was a distant second, with 15 percent citing this. Just 4 percent said the money would be used to pay down debt—a number "significantly lower" than in 2010 and 2011, when this was the No. 2 answer. And 3 percent said they would use the money saved from couponing to splurge, down from 7 percent in 2011.

Check out our top five mobile marketing strategies (including offering coupons) here. 

Business Writers