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Paging through the Sunday coupon inserts, you’re likely to see the same coupons for the same products made by the same major manufacturers – week after week after week.

But what if you prefer products from smaller, lesser-known brands? And what if those smaller brands want to make their mark in a space dominated by the big players, in order to offer coupons of their own?

Forget the Sunday inserts – try going digital.

A new analysis shows that digital coupons represent a significant opportunity for smaller brands to reach consumers, and for consumers to get deals on products for which they might otherwise have to pay full price.

On the heels of Inmar’s mid-year analysis of coupon trends, Kantar Media has released its own findings about the coupons offered so far this year. Like Inmar, Kantar found that distribution for print coupons in the first half of 2017 was flat compared to the same time last year, but the number of digital coupons available is increasing at a rapid rate.

And while paper coupons are largely for the big branded products, Kantar found there are digital coupons available for just about anything.

During the first half of this year, Kantar found that 561 manufacturers offered paper coupons for their products. But more than four times as many manufacturers – 2,556 to be exact – offered digital coupons.

There’s only so much space available in the Sunday inserts, after all. And that space comes at a premium – so the big companies with the big budgets will be the ones to promote their products, again and again.

But lower-cost digital coupons are democratizing discounts, allowing many more companies to participate.

It’s a trend that Coupons.com owner Quotient Technology has noted as well. “Niche brands, who have traditionally been locked out of offline promotional vehicles, are gaining market share through digital-only strategies,” CEO Steven Boal told investors this week.

And the mere act of offering coupons can really make a difference for smaller brands looking to sell more products. Inmar this week reported that 65% of shoppers surveyed said they would be willing to try a new product if they had a coupon. And 32% of coupons were used by shoppers who said “I happened to find a coupon and it made me add the product to my list.”

For many smaller brands, then, no coupons can equal no sales. So digital coupons can be an affordable way to get their products off the shelves and into more of our shopping carts.

Digital coupons still represent a tiny portion of all coupons distributed and redeemed. But their share is steadily growing. And digital coupon providers insist that digital discounts are the future.

“The importance of digital is understood like never before,” Boal said. And manufacturers “who do not have an action plan to exit the declining offline promotional vehicle over the next few years will be left behind,” he predicted.

So if you want the largest variety of available coupons, put down your inserts and look online. And digital coupon providers hope to ensure that you’ll never want to go back.

Image source: Quotient Technology

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