Whether you are an “extreme couponer” or just like to keep an eye out for good deals, you are probably used to finding these in the Sunday newspaper or in the stack of weekly circulars at the local grocery store. You get home, grab some scissors, and start snipping away. Then, you begin to sort and organize into different piles by month, store, or expiration. Well, put down those scissors and pick up that smart phone; the paper-coupon era is becoming extinct.
It is confirmed that more than 110 million people and about 70% of digital coupon users will use coupons on their mobile device this year. This number has increased dramatically compared to the 92 million people that used digital coupons in 2012 and the 103 million people back in 2011.
It isn’t a surprise that smart phones have barged in and taken over the coupon industry; it has taken over almost all aspects of our lives-from DIY projects to simple food recipes to socializing and dating apps to daily news and workout trends-coupons, discounts, and deals will now be in the palm of our hand and will forever change the way we shop.
According to NCH Marketing Services, manufacturers sent 305 billion coupons into circulation in the U.S. last year. That is roughly the same number of coupons sent out in 2011. However, the number of coupons actually used by consumers by 2012 measured 2.9 billion, representing a dip of 17%. This data is showing that the coupons being put into circulation are not being utilized to their full extent and something is causing a major decrease in the use of paper coupons.
Two major factors come into play when we think about the decrease in the use of the paper coupon: one, consumers cannot find coupons for products that they want and two, the coupons that people do find are not worth redeeming. But, the most important factor of all, is that the smart phone allows for people to access millions of coupons in real time with the touch of a finger.
Consumers can access any website on their phone, pull up a store’s page and find a corresponding discount or coupon. You can then bring your phone into the store and Voila! To make things even easier, consumers can use their search engine and type in “coupons for ___” while also including the month and the year to make for a quicker search. Links to coupon codes will then appear and you can present this at checkout. Taking a quick screenshot of the coupon or barcode or even emailing it to yourself allows you to save these deals to use later if you aren’t quick enough to pull up thees deals at checkout.
The Walgreens app is a great example of using coupons via mobile device. You browse the flyers, choose the coupons that interest you, and it calculates your total estimated savings. The app also updates coupons daily, showing you new and expiring coupons. Once you have found all of the coupons you want to use, a bar code appears and can be used at check-out where a cashier scans it right from your phone. Target has a similar app, CartWheel, as well as hundreds of other stores that now offer online coupons. These stores are able to make a marketing budget of millions of dollars and put additional funds into great promotional advertising or bottom line profit.
Since coupons are still seen as a value by 73% of American shoppers, using digital coupon apps such as this one, people can save an average of 18 hours a week compared to that of an extreme coupon shopper! So, drop the scissors and don’t miss out on the digital age. The future is here and paper is not included!