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Survey Reveals US Consumers Heavier Coupon Users than Canadian Consumers


Nearly Half of Consumers Say They Will Be More Likely to Use Coupons Even With End of Recession

DALLAS - ICOM, a division of Epsilon Targeting – the leading provider of consumer information for targeted marketing solutions - today unveiled a survey of consumers in the US and Canada highlighting behaviors and attitudes about coupons. Of the 3692 US consumers surveyed 28% use coupons more than once per week, up from 24% in 2008, and 36% use them once per week, an increase from 33% in 2008. Coupon use in Canada is lower than the US with just 16% of 3051 consumers surveyed using coupons more than once per week, unchanged from 2008, and 28% using them once per week, up from 27% in 2008.

Eight in ten US respondents currently receive their coupons in newspapers, while most Canadian respondents (82%) receive theirs by mail. Around half of US (54%) and Canadian (51%) respondents receive coupons via the internet or email. When it comes to preferences, 69% of US respondents prefer to receive coupons by mail and 59% prefer to receive them by newspaper. In Canada a vast majority (74%) prefer to receive their coupons by mail.

The Economic Recession and Coupons

When asked how their current coupon use compares to a year ago, 43% of US respondents used more coupons than the previous year, whereas 38% of Canadian respondents used more. The top reason for US respondents’ increased usage of coupons in the last year was ‘tried to save money due to the recession’ (79%) followed by ‘received more coupons that are useful to me’ (54%). For Canadian respondents the recession had less of an impact, with only six in ten respondents saying they tried to save money due to the recession, 69% saying they received more coupons that are useful and 59% had more coupons sent to them in the mail.

If the recession continues, 46% of US respondents said they are much more likely to use coupons and 28% said they are somewhat more likely. A quarter said they would not change their coupon usage. Fewer Canadian respondents (36%) are much more likely to use coupons if the recession continues.

When asked about their likelihood to use coupons even with the end of the economic recession, 27% of US respondents and 20% of Canadian respondents are much more likely to use coupons and 21% in the US and 25% in Canada are somewhat more likely to use coupons. Only 1% of respondents in each region are much less likely to use coupons.

These findings may indicate a lasting change in the psyche of consumers with regard to how they shop and spend as a result of the challenging economic times. Coupon use, while once perceived to be limited to a small segment of the population, may very well be adopted as the norm going forward. Marketers should take into account this change in behavior as they plan for the future. An effective marketing strategy means ensuring that the coupon is relevant and provides sufficient time for the consumer to react.

Marketers need a deep understanding of the key drivers for successful couponing– for instance, previous research by ICOM indicated that current customers do not need as great a coupon value as potential new customers. For marketers this could result in huge savings as they focus limited dollars and apply savings in the most appropriate way to unique segments of their customers and prospects.

Online Coupons

Respondents in the US are more likely to have ever printed an online coupon (78%) compared to their counterparts in Canada (70%). Nearly one third (30%) of Canadians surveyed have not printed any coupons from an email or the Internet, representing a major lapse in online engagement by marketers. Incidence of ever using an online coupon has increased significantly since ICOM’s 2008 couponing survey. In the latest wave of research, 75% of US respondents said they ever used an online coupon compared to 61% in 2008. In Canada, 66% said they used an online coupon compared to 53% in 2008.

In general, the Canadian marketplace has a lower coupon adoption rate, partially because a number of retailers and grocers do not accept printed coupons from online sources. This is largely due to fraud issues in the past. For marketers with better coupon acceptance, there is an opportunity to leverage the channels where consumers are most engaged and drive desired business results with key customer segments. On the contrary, the US marketplace is more open to online coupons yet consumers surveyed still prefer coupons by mail. A multichannel strategy that incorporates preferences and behavior will provide the best results.

The primary method for obtaining online coupons used was through an email. Many respondents also received information about the coupons by email that directed them to a website and also by mail. Other sources of online coupons were by online search and hearing about the coupon from a friend or family member. The majority of respondents, both in the US (72%) and Canada (69%) prefer receiving coupons by mail. Results indicated a substantial increase among those preferring to receive coupons via email/online – in the US the number went from 18% to 27% and in Canada 19 to 29%. This still represents less than one third of the population, indicating that mail is still the preferred mode.

Marketers should recognize these trends as they plan for promotional efforts involving coupons. While marketers should not ignore the opportunity to distribute coupons digitally, today’s consumer seems more responsive to offers via the mail. A multichannel strategy based on data and insight will enable marketers to effectively communicate offers to consumers – offers which consumers will be more likely to respond and thus will deliver needed results.

The main reasons for preferring coupons by postal mail include ‘they are ready to use right away’ and ‘they are more convenient’ and ‘easy to use.’ Whereas the main reasons for preferring email or online coupons include ‘I can print the coupons I want to use’ and ‘there is less waste if I only print coupons that are being used.’

The main reason for non-redemption of online coupons continues to be the same from 2008 and 2010 surveys, in the US ‘never found any online coupons that I wanted’ and in Canada ‘do not know where to look for online coupons.’ There is an opportunity for better targeting and stronger customer outreach and communication by marketers.

According to Brian Rainey, President, Epsilon Targeting, “Especially in challenging economic times, consumers are budget-minded and coupons can drive purchases and create brand loyalty. By understanding both consumer behaviors and preferences in the US and Canada, marketers can effectively leverage coupons to better target and engage with consumers. Our research shows a multichannel approach that leverages data, personalization and analytics will resonate most with consumers.”


Epsilon Targeting’s Coupon study was comprised of a February 2010 online survey sent to a random sample of households in the US and Canada from Epsilon Targeting’s vast database. The US sample had a response rate of 3.7% with 3692 consumer respondents. In Canada the response rate was 15.3% with 3051 respondents. The first wave of the study was conducted in February 2008.


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