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Coupon stat season continues, with another report offering new insights into how we used coupons in the past year. The coupon processing company Inmar says we’re using fewer coupons than we have in years – but we’re saving more. How can that be?

Inmar’s annual report digs deeper than other studies, such as the one recently published by Kantar Media. That report examined newspaper free-standing insert (FSI) coupons, and found that both the number of coupons distributed, and their face values, increased in 2013.

But Inmar’s report includes all types of coupons, and also redemption figures. It found that 329 billion coupons for consumer packaged goods products were distributed in 2013, up 3.6% from the previous year. But coupon redemption actually fell last year, from 3 billion to 2.9 billion coupons redeemed.

At the same time, the average face value of all coupons distributed was down slightly in 2013, sliding 0.6% to $1.56. Yet the average face value of coupons redeemed grew significantly, up 12.4% to $1.27.

So we’re clipping fewer coupons, but saving more with the ones we use.

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Inmar’s takeaway? “Consumers responded to offers they found compelling – motivated to action, in large part, by the face value of the offer.”

We’re also apparently motivated by long expiration dates. While the average redemption period for coupons distributed in 2013 was 2.2 months, the average redemption period for coupons redeemed soared to 5.3 months. “Consumers appear appreciative of lengthier redemption periods and the flexibility to use coupons on their own schedule as their needs warrant,” Inmar concludes.

Where, incidentally, are people finding these coupons that are valid for nearly half a year? Remember, Inmar’s study includes all kinds of coupons, so the shorter-expiration FSI coupons are offset by coupons with much longer expiration dates, like those in the health care category (with an average redemption period of 7.4 months in 2012), clothing coupons (11.1 months) and “hospital sample coupons” (16.4 months).

Inmar’s full report won’t come out for another month or so, so these are only some of the topline statistics it released this week. Other stats include the fact that FSI coupons remain by far the most popular, representing 87.3% of all coupons distributed, and 41% of all coupons redeemed. Nearly half of all shoppers Inmar surveyed, said they regularly use FSI coupons.

Digital coupons remain a tiny, but growing, percentage of all coupons redeemed. More than 66 million digital coupons were redeemed in 2013, significantly more than the 27.5 million redeemed in 2012. That’s still only enough for them to represent just 0.2% of all coupons used in 2013. But the annual rate of increase means digital coupons remain a category to watch in the years to come.

In all, Inmar says its figures show that coupons remain enormously popular. “With 96% of shoppers we spoke to telling us they used coupons in 2013, there’s no question as to their importance as a marketing tool,” said Inmar CEO David Mounts. But as consumers’ “offer expectations” continue to increase, he added, marketers must adjust to ensure their coupons remain relevant.

Otherwise, we’ll continue to gravitate toward the better, higher-value, longer-expiration coupons – and ignore the rest. Either way, if we can continue to save more by clipping less, that’s a trend most couponers will likely welcome for some time to come.

photo by: rose3694

One Comment

  1. Most of the coupons useful to me, sadly, are only good for a month, if that. I would LOVE longer expiry dates but lately, they just keep getting shorter and shorter. At least for the stuff I use.

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