Unless they follow the industry very closely, or shop at a store that’s testing them out, most shoppers don’t know much about universal digital coupons. But if a universal coupon can help make shopping and saving easier – they’re all for it.

A new survey finds that shoppers today are still interested in coupons – and they’re especially interested if couponing can be made more convenient. For those who like doing their couponing the old-fashioned way, though, it’s notable that the findings indicate “convenient” doesn’t automatically mean “digital,” as many who equate digital coupons with simplicity might assume.

In its newest monthly Consumer Digest Report, the retail data analytics company 84.51° asked shoppers how they like to shop and save today, and how they might like to do so in the future.

When it comes to grocery shopping today, shoppers are becoming more comfortable with technology. 63% said they regularly use self-checkout, 53% use grocery store apps to find digital coupons, and 45% use grocery store apps to find other savings. “Customers are very interested in new technologies to make shopping easier and more experiential,” the report found. Their willingness to adapt to those technologies indicates that “shoppers are hungry for new grocery experiences and ways to save.”

But when asked to weigh in on the ever-present debate over their preference for digital coupons versus paper coupons, most shoppers’ answer is: both. Digital might appear to be the clear favorite, when you consider that 37% of shoppers surveyed say they use digital coupons only, compared to a mere 8% who use paper coupons only. And yet, back in July, 84.51°’s monthly survey found that nearly one in five shoppers ranked digital coupons dead last on their list of preferred promotions.


Most shoppers, it seems, don’t really have a preference. This month’s survey found that nearly half of all shoppers report using coupons wherever and however they can find them – in both digital and paper form. This, the report notes, shows that “while shoppers are interested in evolving the grocery shopping experience,” the shopping and saving tools they envision using in the future “mirror those available today.” Now and in the future, then, the most convenient type of coupons are those that give shoppers a choice in how they want to use them.

That doesn’t mean shoppers anticipate being stuck in the past as the future moves on without them. “In the future, shoppers would like to save money in new ways,” the report found. 84.51° gave shoppers a selection of future savings opportunities, and asked which they were most interested in. Tops on the list, cited by nearly three-quarters of those surveyed, was “universal coupons to use across retailers.”

Digital coupons these days are generally retailer-specific. You have to clip an offer on a specific store’s website or app in order to use it at that store – and if you want to shop at a different store instead, you have to go looking to see if the same coupon is available in that store’s digital coupon gallery. Universal coupons aren’t linked to a specific retailer, so you can clip them or download them to a mobile wallet, and use them anywhere you’d like to shop. Universal coupons are currently being tested ahead of a more widespread rollout to come, so most shoppers haven’t come across them yet. But from these survey results, it would appear they’re looking forward to seeing these coupons for themselves.

Other future savings opportunities that shoppers are interested in, include auto-loaded personalized digital coupons, cited by 70%. And lest anyone think grocery shoppers of the future won’t be interested in paper coupons, half of all shoppers said they’d like to see personalized paper coupons that they can pick up in their favorite store.

In the end, whether coupons are digital or paper, universal or store-specific, general or personalized, it seems some things will remain remarkably the same, no matter how high-tech couponing becomes in the future. When asked open-ended questions about what money-saving ideas they’d like to see implemented in the future, shoppers’ specific ideas varied but their general wishes were similar to what any shopper might say today – lower prices, more discounts and more coupons.

So technology and couponing may continue to evolve. But regardless of how we’re couponing in the years to come, it seems the desire for saving money is one thing that will never really change.

Image source: cpyles

One Comment

  1. Shoppers clearly want universal digital coupons, so what is taking retailers so long to accept, embrace and promote these coupons?

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