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    Tough Times Mean Higher Use of Coupons: Survey

    The majority of respondents to a survey said they're attracted by the ease of paperless coupons.

    An economic downturn and technology advancements will lead to increased coupon usage among U.S. shoppers, according to survey results released today by Toronto-based ICOM Information Communications (ICOM).

    Of the 1,529 U.S. consumers who responded to a recent ICOM survey conducted in mid-February, 67 percent said they are much more likely, or somewhat more likely, to use coupons during a recession. The breakdown was 45 percent much more likely and 22 percent somewhat more likely.

    Broken down by age, 71 percent of consumers in the 18-34 year-old age bracket said they are much more likely or somewhat more likely to use coupons in a recession, vs. 68 percent in the 35-54 year-old bracket and 63 percent among those 55 years and above.

    On a geographical basis, 70 percent of Midwesterners said they are much more likely or somewhat more likely to use coupons in a recession, compared with 69 percent of Westerners, 64 percent of Northeasterners, and 62 percent of Southerners.

    "Marketers have the opportunity to discard the old-school thinking about coupons and be smarter this time around," said ICOM marketing v.p. Peter Meyers in a statement. "There's no need to send out more mass coupons, such as dog food coupons to households that don't have pets. Brands should do their homework and send offers relevant to the needs of individual consumers. And consumers should be given more time to redeem coupons - three months is not enough."

    When it comes coupon technology, 58 percent of respondents believe their coupon use would increase if they could download a coupon from the Internet and have it automatically connected to an electronically swiped frequent shopper card.

    Of that 58 percent, 35 percent said they are much more likely to use such a card and 23 percent said are somewhat more likely. AOL, Kroger, General Mills and Procter & Gamble are currently testing such high-tech coupons.

    Seventy-seven percent of consumers in the 18-34 age group said they are much more likely or somewhat more likely to use coupons if given access to such paperless technology, in the 35-54 age group, 63 percent said they are much more likely or somewhat more likely, and in the 55-and-over bracket, 47 percent said they are much more likely or somewhat more likely.

    "These advanced coupons have attracted some consumer interest and drawn media attention," noted Meyers. "Put in perspective, online coupons of all kinds represent less than 1 percent of the overall coupon market, and consumers to date have expressed a strong preference for receiving coupons in the mail," noted Meyers. "Brands should pay close attention to determine if this technology is right for their consumers."

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