For years, you’ve likely spent part of your Sundays clipping coupons you want from the newspaper inserts and discarding the rest. Easy enough. But today, an ever-changing array of coupons and discounts is available everywhere, and not just on Sundays.

For example, there are currently more than 500 coupons to choose from on the big three printable sites – how do you find the time to regularly scan through them all? A single supermarket, Kroger, has nearly 300 digital coupons ready to be clipped – whenever you have a chance to browse through them. And then there are new online savings opportunities, like Target’s Cartwheel discount program, which gives you a percentage off various purchases if you pre-select the offers. As of this writing, there are 640 discounts available – and you may need to set aside the better part of a day to scroll through them all and choose exactly the offers you want the most, since new users can only select a maximum of ten.

It’s no wonder that some overwhelmed couponers are saying, enough!

A new study from Catalina Marketing, titled “Getting Smart About Today’s Mobile Savvy Shoppers”, surveyed 1,000 of the most plugged-in, smartphone-using, tech-savvy savers – and found that even they’re overwhelmed by all of the coupon choices out there, and the precious time that it takes to sort through them all.

“They want applications that deliver coupons and savings,” the report reads, “but they expect them to deliver those benefits in an intelligent and personalized way. They don’t want to search through a long list of random coupons for products they never buy.”


Adding to these smartphone-toting shoppers’ frustration, the report finds, is that there are currently more than 1,000 shopping apps available for the iPhone alone – and none of them does everything that these shoppers would like.

Shopping list apps are nice, they say, as are those that keep track of your spending or loyalty and gas points. But coupons are by far the most important feature in a mobile app. 95% of survey respondents said they had used at least some coupons over the past six months, and 98% said they were at least somewhat likely to use digital coupons in the future.

“They embrace the ease and automation of coupons delivered on their phones,” the report reads, but “they also like the idea of applications that help them find the coupons and savings that are relevant to them – again reducing the effort of searching for special offers on the items they want. They value features that deliver savings, but only on products and brands that are relevant to them.”

One study participant dreamed of an app that would curate coupons based on items that she frequently purchased. “Having coupons that you cannot use, or for items that you never use, is useless,” she said.

An earlier survey from the coupon processing company Inmar came up with similar findings last year. But its results suggested that many of those who wanted their coupons simpler and more streamlined were just, well, lazy. More than a third of the shoppers surveyed in that study said they wished all coupons could be digital, and more than three-quarters said those coupons should be automatically applied to their purchases so they don’t actually have to do any of that pesky sorting and clipping at all.

Catalina’s study doesn’t suggest that couponers expect saving to be effortless. But it’s about more than just the availability of deals and coupons, the report concludes, it’s about “smarter and more efficient ways to save.” In the end, “shoppers just want an app that saves them both time and money by reducing the complexity and effort it takes to shop.”

Think about that the next time you spend hours of your life scrolling through the combined 1,460 printable coupons, Kroger digital coupons and Target Cartwheel offers that are currently available, as you pluck out a small percentage that you’ll actually use. Those who enjoy the thrill of the hunt probably don’t mind. But until that magic app comes along that sorts through everything automatically, most shoppers will have to decide what’s more valuable to them – their money, or their time.

One Comment

  1. TheHappyWhisk.blogspot.com says:

    I don’t need an app, I’m quite happy with the way things are now. Plus, those programs that help sort never for me anyway, really work right. So I’m happy to keep doing it myself.

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