Do you prefer percent-off discounts, or dollars off? Free items or free shipping? Coupons by email or by text? Your preferences could depend, in part, on your age. So a new report says “generationally-tailored coupons” are key to keeping online shoppers happy, and spending, this year.

The e-commerce marketing company ActiveCampaign surveyed more than a thousand online shoppers about their spending and saving habits. When it comes to discounts, some of their preferences are nearly universal – 85% of all survey respondents said a coupon has prompted them to purchase from an online store they’ve never patronized before. 91% are more likely to recommend an online retailer if they get a coupon. And a whopping 97% would like to see more coupons from their favorite online stores.

Who doesn’t like to save, after all? But there are differences of opinion when it comes to how shoppers want to save.

“You may be asking yourself how ecommerce stores can stand out from the crowd,” ActiveCampaign’s report reads. “Look no further than generationally-tailored coupons, discounts, and other incentives. By offering customers a way to save, in a manner consistent with their preferences, online stores can differentiate themselves and appeal to their audience, no matter what age.”

Three-quarters of all shoppers prefer to receive coupons via email, “but SMS preference is growing,” with a third preferring coupons via text. But too much of one over the other could alienate a good portion of a retailer’s consumer base. The older the shopper, the higher their preference for email – 90% of boomers prefer email, well above average. And the younger the shopper, the more likely they are to like coupons by text – half of all Gen Z shoppers prefer texts.


That seems logical enough, generationally. But other preferences are all over the place. When asked what they’d be willing to do to receive a coupon, boomers are most likely to follow a store on social media, Gen X is most likely to subscribe to promotional emails, and millennials are most likely to share an offer with a friend so they can both get a deal.

When asked what type of discount they most prefer, boomers like free shipping best, Gen X likes dollars-off and BOGO coupons, millennials like “buy more to save more” offers, and Gen Z prefers percent-off discounts.

Among all generations, boomers are most likely to consider switching to a competitor in order to get free shipping, while millennials are most likely to make a second purchase with the same retailer after receiving a coupon.

So “offering the right promotion to the right audience at the right time via the right channel is critical for growing your customer base, driving retention, and increasing sales,” ActiveCampaign advises retailers.

Overall, despite inflation and other financial concerns, shoppers said they expect their online spending to be about the same this year as last year. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want their money’s worth. 80% said price is a top priority, above product quality and selection, while nearly half are more interested in coupons and discounts when shopping online.

“Coupons can be a powerful tactic in customer acquisition and retention,” the report concludes. “Clear, well-timed, and well-considered incentives,” in the format that shoppers prefer, will help retailers grab a greater share of online shoppers’ spending. After all, preferences may differ across generations – but the desire for deals is universal.

Image source: rupixen.com on Unsplash

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