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    Coupons Are the New Normal

    Consumers are more willing than ever to abandon a purchase if they can’t find a coupon

    Online coupon websites remain a popular way to save, with a notable increase in usage among men, a trend is reflected in traffic to RetailMeNot.com’s site, which has seen a 49 percent increase in the past year.

    These are among the results of the third-annual Benchmark Survey on Consumer Coupon Behavior commissioned by RetailMeNot.com and conducted online in August by Harris Interactive. The survey, which polled 2,340 online adults age 18 and up in the United States, measured trends in online shopping and coupon usage.

    “With previous downturns in the economy, consumers were forced to take a more active role in monitoring their spending,” said Guy King, co-founder of RetailMeNot.com. “A result of this increased attention has been that people are now more aware than ever of the opportunities to save money and are less willing to make a purchase without first checking for a lower price.”

    The survey found that in the past two years, consumer awareness of online coupon sites has increased significantly, with only 11 percent of online adults stating that they did not know what a coupon website was, compared to 16 percent in 2009 and 17 percent in 2008. As Americans become more coupon-savvy, they are less likely to settle for paying retail. 34 percent of online adults say that they will opt to go to a different store or wait for a coupon to become available if they cannot find a coupon, compared to 30 percent and 27 percent in 2009 and 2008 respectively.

    Coupons have also become more universal. Previously considered a woman’s domain, coupon usage has begun to close the gap between genders, with more men jumping on the coupon bandwagon than in previous years. Coupon website usage among male online shoppers increased across all age brackets, with the most notable increase from 16 percent last year to 24 percent this year in men ages 55 or older.

    Additionally, this year’s survey took a look at grocery coupons for the first time, finding that 87 percent of men and 93 percent of women have used coupons for grocery purchases. Despite a third (33 percent) of these adults reporting that they use coupon websites to find grocery coupons, nearly seven in 10 (69 percent) still use newspapers. Other popular methods of finding grocery coupons included the postal mail (50 percent), on or inside product packages (43 percent), in-store displays (42 percent), on the back of receipts (30 percent), in emails (28 percent), in magazines (25 percent), on manufacturer or retailer websites (24 percent), with a retailer club card (15 percent) or on social networks (4 percent).

    These results indicate that regardless of whether the economy rebounds or suffers a double-dip recession, coupon usage has become the “new normal.”

    Blogger Ashley Nuzzo of FrugalCouponLiving.com said: “Couponing began as a need and has now evolved into a way of life. It doesn’t make sense to go back to a way of life where watching our money isn’t the norm. It isn’t a hobby, it is a habit.” Nichole Smith of Alaska & Hawaii Coupon Diva agreed, noting that ease of use and availability of online deals is also a factor: “With the development of websites and frugal blogs that share coupon links and codes with readers, there is really no reason not to use them.”

    For complete survey results and methodology, including weighting variables, contact [email protected].
     

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