Coupon culture takes hold

Examples of coupons
Examples of coupons

With money-off coupons proving a hit with hard-pressed consumers, they also offer real growth opportunities for retailers and manufacturers



15 February 2012

Share this post:




A recent online survey of 1,000 consumers by Carat Media found that nine out of 10 respondents said that they collect and use discount coupons. Of these 67% are now using coupons more often than in the past to make their money strecth further.
Dael Wood director of Consumer Insights & Strategy at Carat Media says: "It’s not just the increased usage that is remarkable but there is now real energy and excitement coming from consumers around the whole couponing area. I think that consumers feel that by using coupons in their grocery shopping they are being pro-active and to some extent taking back control."
Wood also says that "this pro-activness by consumers is something that brand owners can further leverage to increase sales".
A massive 80% of respondents said that they are most likely to use coupons when grocery shopping, with other categories showing only small usage. The research also found that while the majority of discount coupons are still collected offline, group deal sites are becoming increasingly important. Direct mail is still the most popular method for consumers to get their coupons with six in 10 relying on vouchers dropped through their letterboxes.
The Carat Media research found that while Irish consumers demonstrate a comparitively low use of online discount coupons, there is a strong appetite for web services such as group deal sites and location-based apps. This would suggest that it is a lack of awareness or availability, that is limiting the use of these. Dael Wood predicts that coupon usage will sky-rocket in the near future especially once mobile technologies take hold.’s CEO Michael Dwyer agrees wholeheartedly and says “The future of couponing is through smart phones, when Irish multiples implement the technology to accept e-coupons; we predict a rapid increase in the use of couponing.”
The research also found that while embarrassment and general lethargy are barriers for some, most of the respondents consider themselves to be active users of coupons, as they can clearly see the benefits of using them. was the first Irish website to fully embrace the emerging couponing culture a number of years ago. We asked them had they noticed an increase in grocery coupon usage from their site over the past six months? “Comparing the same coupons which ran the whole of 2011, we have found an increase of 55% on coupon prints in the latter six months, whilst maintaining a healthy 25% average on redemptions. The high redemption rate results from members selecting only the coupons they wish to print. Of the unredeemed 75%, more than half go on to purchase the product (post-campaign research),” says CEO Michael Dwyer.

Benefits for brand

Michael Dwyer CEO of says that coupons are primarily a method of driving trial for both new and existing products. “It is an excellent way to get a product into the hands of a consumer, and if they have a good experience they are likely to purchase again (post campaign research shows 56% of consumers are very likely/likely to purchase again).
“Coupons on have a very quantifiable and strong return on investment, which can be calculated based on the number of purchasers and their likely subsequent re-purchase behaviour. 
“Our coupons are personalised, with a unique barcode, so we are able to provide a full demographic profile on the printers of the coupons. can provide research for brands during and after a coupon campaign. This can be very insightful for brands and shape ideas for future NPD,” he says. 

New arrival is entering the Irish market as the “first dedicated grocery coupon website in Ireland”. It is backed by, which according to Philip Dargan director of, "is the world’s largest online coupon site company, valued at over one billion dollors. also operates the UK website called ‘

Dargan hopes that will become the destination site for consumers to visit to see what coupons are available before they go shopping. He says that one of his site’s big advantages is its secure form of coupon distribution.
“ software is industry leading and creates the most secure coupons available for suppliers to use, minimising coupon fraud, abuse and overspend on promotions. It features security, which prevents colour photocopying, is traceable and spools direct to the printer so that coupons cannot be saved to PDF and used repeatedly or posted online/emailed. Suppliers can even specify the number of times an individual can print their coupon, further ensuring strict controls,” says Dargan.
He also says: “I have gone to extra effort to secure more preferential terms for Irish brands to give them a competitive advantage”.
Dargan says that he currently has 11,000 people signed up to his website which will launch at the end of February. He also says that will be different from in that it will only have coupons for grocery products, it will be a “go to” site, so customers will not be emailed but will actively seek out money-off coupons, and the site will not engage with people via blogs or relationship building articles or emails.

Retailers love them!

What’s not to love? Coupons bring people into stores and drive footfall and sales if given away in-store. They build brand loyalty while rewarding consumers with money off. “It is important though that staff view coupons exactly like money. If staff just see them as pieces of paper then it’s a good way to lose money,” says one retailer. Another retailer summed up his customer’s love affair with coupons by saying, “poor people need them – rich people love them!”
In the USA, the bastion of couponing, it is the more affluent households that dominate coupon usage – 38% of “super-heavy” users and 41% of “enthusiasts” come from households with incomes greater than $70,000 (source NielsenWire).
According to Michael Dwyer: “Pigsback’s audience is an ABC audience, demonstrating that the quest for value is universal”.

Consumers really love them! 

Pigsback’s grocery couponing is part of a broader trend in which consumers are seeking value for money in all aspects of their life, and are using offers and deals, often in the form of coupons and vouchers. Pigsback’s own Mega Deals offering is evidence of this as over €10m in deals is expected to be sold in 2012. 
A quick trawl through any of the social network sites reveals that the Irish consumer’s love affair with coupons is starting to take hold. One Magicmum subscriber said: “When I used the Pigsback coupons in Dunnes a few months ago the cashier had never seen them, now they don’t bat an eyelid”. Another said: “Have started "couponing" as the Yanks say and have really got into it … it does make a difference.” And “Yeah Pigsback is good…. there is a couponing thread on that I have found helpful”.
It is no different on “Started couponing recently and am really getting good value when I double them up with Tesco’s half price offers”.
But to demonstrate Philip Dargan’s point about coupon abuse there are also lots of links to coupons and comments such as the following: “Had no problems using a lot of coupons. All in all saved €40 roughly. The Today FM coupon runs till December so print as many as you like”.
“I didn’t realize that the Persil one was printable again and again, yay”.
“One euro off Barry’s Green Tea, healthy, this one too seems to be printable again and again!”
In relative terms the Irish coupon culture is only in its infancy but advancements in mobile delivery systems will fuel the growth in coupon usage. It’s important that retailers are ready for this onslaught and will train their staff so as to avoid customer embarrassment or confusion at the tills.

Most popular sources for coupons

1. Leaflets/fliers
2. In-Store
3. Group deal emails
4. Newspapers
5. Magazines
6. Search online coupons
7. Coupon websites
8. Social Networks

Top 10 most popular coupons

Groceries 78%
Restaurants 5%
Take-away food 5%
Holidays/breaks/hotels 3%
Hair/Beauty service 2%
Books and Stationery 2%
Clothing 1%
Airfares 1%
Electronics 1%
Insurance 0.5% 


Share this post:

Back to Top ↑

Shelflife Magazine