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How Has Grocery Store Couponing Evolved for Merchants?

Lori Stafford Thomas

Most shopping trends these days are moving toward digital infrastructure. Coupons still have a pulse, which is good news for retailers, restaurants and most notably grocery stores. Customers have traditionally relied on coupons to make transactions and get their food at cheaper prices.

That sentiment is a primary driver behind the healthy heartbeat of traditional couponing today. According to a recent Inmar study, 2.9 billion coupons were redeemed in 2013, while distribution grew 3.6 percent year over year (1). Of the 329 billion coupons issued for consumer packaged goods in 2013 - which included print and digital - 40 percent were for food products and 60 percent were for non-food products.

The 4 in 10 ratio of food-related coupons impacts the grocery store market significantly since nourishment is their main line of business. Local and regional grocery stores should keep investing in coupons if they want to meet consumer demand going forward.

How has grocery store couponing changed?
The obvious change in couponing today is the switch from print to digital. Paper coupons still exist and are a prevalent part of the regular shopping experience, but retailers and merchants have found more inexpensive and easier ways to deliver these offers and promotions to customers in the form of email and downloadable coupons. According to DiscountCoder.com, 97 million domestic consumers used online discount coupons and codes in 2013, a nearly 16 percent increase from 2011 (2).

Couponing has become so popular in the grocery store sector that even cable television has picked up shows about coupon redemption. The television series showcases everyday consumers who save hundreds of dollars in their trips to the grocery store thanks in part to print and digital coupons. 

What's next for coupons?
As retailers become smarter in the ways they reach out to and communicate with consumers, coupon evolution will also become more intuitive. Grocery stores can leverage grocery store pos systems to create back-end reporting using purchase history, creating more targeted and relevant messaging for customers. In fact, smart advertising could be a thing of the future, with stores sending coupons individually tailored to customers. The more targeted the coupon, the higher the likelihood that particular customer is going to revisit the store again.

  1. Inmar, http://go.inmar.com/rs/inmar/images/Inmar_2014_Coupon_Trends_Report.pdf, Feb. 2014
  2. DiscountCoder.com, http://visual.ly/evolution-coupons-and-discount-codes, Dec. 14, 2011

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