CVS receipts became a national joke a few years ago, as coupons that printed out after your purchase caused the receipts to become comically long.

Do you really need a five-foot-long receipt for buying a pack of gum? And who even uses any of those coupons anyway?

Well, someone is. Because a new survey says shoppers actually like – and use – coupons that print on their receipts.

The marketing technology firm inStream has released the results of its “Value Channel Shopper Tracking Study”. In an an increasingly digital world, the company says its survey found that paper coupons – and paper receipts – have plenty of life left in them.

70% of shoppers surveyed told inStream that coupons printed at the bottom on their receipts were most convenient for them, beating out other types of coupons like those they receive in the mail, the Sunday circulars or online. In addition, 58% said they’re likely to use a coupon found on their receipt, compared to only 16% who said they prefer to seek out digital coupons.


The survey focused on shoppers who frequent “value channels” like inStream client Dollar General. “Value shoppers – one of the retail industry’s bright spots – have spoken, and they continue to demonstrate a strong preference for receipt-based offers,” said inStream’s Chief Operating Officer Michael Doherty.

While companies like Catalina provide customized printed checkout coupons alongside your receipts, inStream is one of a handful of companies printing coupons on the receipts themselves.

And the competition for that small piece of real estate on a receipt is fierce. Mobivity, an inStream competitor that prints coupons on the receipts of clients like Subway and Dairy Queen, filed a lawsuit against inStream earlier this year, accusing it of infringing on a patent for a system that prints coupons based on a customer’s purchases and preferences.

Mobivity later dropped the case. But the dispute shows that there are still plenty of companies placing their bets on the continued viability of paper receipts and paper coupons.

“In a world of increasing emphasis on digital and mobile advertising, retailers and brands must be careful to not outpace the interests and shopping habits of their core customers,” Doherty said. In other words, marketers, retailers and coupon providers shouldn’t turn away from paper receipts, because shoppers still overwhelmingly prefer them. “As we often tell our customers – paper receipts aren’t dead!” Doherty said.

So before you crumple up and toss your next super-long receipt, or complain about all the forests that had to be felled to print it, be sure to check out any coupons that might show up at the bottom. There’s a growing industry dedicated to making it worth your while to do precisely that.

Photo by Brad Montgomery


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