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Coupon_Trends_2014_map

If you live in a small town and occasionally get a big-city newspaper, or if you live in the city and sometimes travel to smaller locales, you’ve probably noticed that not all coupon inserts are created equal. Manufacturers typically like to target their best offers to the biggest audiences with the most disposable income. So the larger your metro area, the more likely you are to get more and higher value coupons than your more rural neighbors.

This may be news to some, but common knowledge to others. Either way, a fascinating new map could prove enlightening to coupon users everywhere.

The map comes courtesy of Kantar Media and its “2014 Free Standing Insert Distribution Trends” report. The green-hued image above (click to view it full-sized) displays a county-by-county look at how many coupons were distributed via printed coupon inserts, per capita, last year. The darker the green, the more coupons – with the darkest green counties receiving as many as 5,000 coupons per person.

Five thousand? How many coupons did you get last year?

As the map says, coupon distribution “continued to be the highest in urban areas, both in terms of raw numbers and per capita.” And the inverse is also true, with wide swaths of the Deep South and sparsely-populated Western counties shaded white, which means they received fewer than 50 coupons per person last year.

But not all of the largest cities are colored in the darkest shade of green. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston aren’t. Lesser-populated large cities like Atlanta, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Orlando and Tampa are.

And so are out-of-the-way places like Smyth County, Virginia and Ontonagon County, Michigan.

Does mean you need to head to Appalachia or the Upper Peninsula to get your hands on some of the best coupons in the country? Not quite. That merely shows that coupons per capita doesn’t exactly tell the whole story. And Kantar declined to make raw distribution numbers available.

RevTrax_incentive_report_V2

So how to determine who really gets the best coupons? There’s another way.

Many Sunday newspapers across the country like to tempt potential buyers by emblazoning on their front page the dollar value of the coupons inside. “Up to $345 in coupons inside today’s inserts,” proclaimed this past Sunday’s South Florida Sun Sentinel. Meanwhile, Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel promised “up to $71 in savings.”

Well, that’s a heck of a difference! It seems sunshine isn’t the only thing South Florida has in abundance.

For an idea of how closely coupon values correspond with the coupons-per-capita map above, here’s a sample of the insert coupon values promised by newspapers large and small, across the country, this past Sunday, March 8th:

NewspaperTotal coupon value (March 8, 2015)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
$71
News-Item (Shamokin, PA) $75
Rome (GA) News-Tribune
$95
Sunday Oakland (MI) Press
$102
Springfield (OH) News-Sun
$108
Las Vegas Review-Journal
$110
Dayton Daily News
$114
Sunday Mercury (Pottstown, PA)
$118
New Haven Register
$125
Progress-Index (Petersburg, VA)
$125
San Jose Mercury-News
$132
(Memphis) Commercial Appeal
$142
Tulsa World
$148
Chicago Tribune
$150
Richmond Times-Dispatch
$152
Hamilton (OH) Journal News
$162
Washington Post
$166
Columbus Dispatch
$179
The Record (Troy, NY)
$180
Daily Tribune (Royal Oak, MI)
$194
Houston Chronicle
$200
Arizona Republic
$206
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
$207
Orlando Sentinel
$219
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
$223
Sunday Times (Scranton, PA)
$294
(Minneapolis) Star Tribune
$331
South Florida Sun Sentinel
$345

It’s not a comprehensive list, of course, because not every newspaper regularly adds up the total coupon savings it offers. Some newspapers’ totals are on the low side because they don’t distribute the RedPlum insert at all, like the poor Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and its lone, thin SmartSource insert. And that’s despite the fact that the Milwaukee metro is a rather dark shade of green on the coupons-per-capita map. Maybe they had an off week.

On the other end of the spectrum, some newspapers are left off this list because they grossly inflate their totals by including offers printed in department store circulars and other non-grocery inserts. With just one insert each from SmartSource and RedPlum this past weekend, rest assured that the Baltimore Sun did not actually contain $756 worth of insert coupons – more than twice the Sun Sentinel’s total – as its front page might have had its readers believe.

In the end, when you cross-reference coupons per capita, coupons in total, and coupon values – it looks like Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Orlando are the winners. They’re the greenest on the map, with the most “green” to offer couponers in terms of total savings.

So if you live in one of those metro areas, consider yourself fortunate. If you plan to visit one of those cities any time soon, you might want to pick up a few Sunday newspapers while you’re there.

Even better, save some for your friends in Milwaukee. They’ll be sure to thank you for it.

3 Comments

  1. This is the most inaccurate article I have ever read!!!!! You need to look at Milwaukee Journal (slim lone ss) and they get the red plum???? Like did you even look at the inserts or do any kind of research before writing this….. I would probably get a job in a different field, journalism is clearly not your thing.

    • This article was published in March 2015. The RedPlum inserts returned to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after a long absence, later that year. So if you’re seeing more and better coupons now, then congratulations – but that wasn’t the case when this article was written two years ago.

  2. Can I buy my coupons right from them instead of the newspaper

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