Much has been made of the increased adoption of online grocery shopping, and how the inability to use coupons and take advantage of in-store promotions is preventing some people from jumping aboard the online bandwagon. Now, a new report is offering new insights into those who don’t mind paying more in order to get their groceries online. And it reveals an interesting paradox.

It turns out online shoppers do want coupons and deals – but if they can’t find them, they’ll happily do without.

That’s according to Valassis’ newest annual Coupon Intelligence report. Each year, the report has a different theme – this year, the “2K18” edition is entitled “Modern Shoppers and Their Quest for Savings“, focusing on the various ways that today’s consumers shop, and save.

The main finding of the report is that people still like to use coupons. “The modern shopper is on a quest to save, with nearly all respondents reporting they use coupons,” the report finds. Among the shoppers surveyed, 94% said they use coupons at least some of the time, up from 90% last year. There are also significantly more shoppers who say they “always” use coupons – 15%, up from 10% two years ago.

While many have suggested that paper coupon use is on the way out, 93% of shoppers said they use paper coupons, while an increasing percentage said they’re using a mix of both paper and digital. Digital may be growing in adoption, but paper coupons “remain a staple in the market and a critical tool that consumers use throughout their shopping experience,” the report finds.

Shoppers identified as “frequent coupon users” are among those who look to multiple sources to find coupons. These frequent couponers tend to be parents, homeowners and have a higher income than less-frequent couponers. They are “careful, habitual planners” who are “clearly motivated by a good deal.”

But higher-income shoppers are also more likely to shop for groceries online. And it’s more difficult to apply coupon savings to online purchases.


Online shoppers say they do use coupons when they can. But 70% of shoppers who primarily buy their food online “value convenience and saving time over saving money”, while just 26% of those who prefer to shop in stores say the same.

“These consumers are more likely to be motivated by convenience and a need to save time” – even when they do shop in a store. “For example,” the report finds, “more than half of online shoppers say they shop retailers such as dollar, drug and convenience stores because they can quickly find what they need.”

So they may be willing to spend more for the convenience of online shopping, and they’re okay with paying convenience store prices when they need to shop in person. But the report says marketers can still affect their purchase decisions. Capturing these consumers could be as easy as offering them some deals.

The report finds that online grocery shoppers will visit stores more often if they receive coupons they can use there. “Although convenience is paramount, online shoppers are still big seekers of value,” the report notes. In fact, only 3% of those who primarily buy their food online say they “never” use coupons, compared to 7% of all consumers. “This is especially of interest,” the report finds, because online shoppers are more likely to have higher incomes, “demonstrating that seeking value doesn’t stop with affluence”.

The report concludes by saying that “a multi-channel, cohesive approach is essential to engage and activate” today’s shopper. “This year’s report proves saving is still a top priority for consumers,” said Valassis Chief Marketing Officer Curtis Tingle. “Marketers should keep in mind that today’s modern shopper is dynamic, constantly moving between online and offline channels as they plan, shop and save.” So providing various types of coupons and offers “is key to equipping consumers with the deals they want, at the right time and delivered how they prefer.”

It may be tempting for brands and retailers to sit back, watch and reap the benefits as online grocery shoppers happily pay full price. But that only works if those shoppers are buying their brands from their stores. Otherwise, coupons and discounts could be just what it takes to persuade these shoppers to change their purchasing decisions.

And if the inability to get good deals has been preventing you from buying more of your groceries online – here’s hoping brands and retailers heed that advice.

Photo by ccPixs.com

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