Survey: Consumers Like Receiving Coupons at Home

Shoppers prefer to receive their favorite promotions at home, according to a new SN survey. This desire for convenience means they value traditional freestanding inserts in Sunday newspapers and they like to receive coupons and product samples in the mail. These delivery methods are preferred slightly more than promotions distributed in stores. Meanwhile, the findings of SN's 2007 Consumer Survey

Shoppers prefer to receive their favorite promotions at home, according to a new SN survey.

This desire for convenience means they value traditional freestanding inserts in Sunday newspapers and they like to receive coupons and product samples in the mail. These delivery methods are preferred slightly more than promotions distributed in stores.

Meanwhile, the findings of SN's 2007 Consumer Survey of Promotional Practices show that Internet-generated promotions are not favored as highly — perhaps since they are relatively new.

“Coupons are still the leading promotion for consumer packaged goods, and it's not surprising that consumers rely on receiving these discounts in several different ways,” said John Morgan, executive director of the Association of Coupon Professionals, a Des Plaines, Ill.-based trade association.

Six of 10 consumers obtain coupons inside or on the product package (62%), in the Sunday newspaper (61%) and in the mail (61%), according to the survey. About half get their coupons from a store circular or from a dispenser on the shelf. A much smaller percentage (19%) said they get their coupons from an Internet coupon website, or a manufacturer's website (12%).

Respondents were also asked about how they prefer to receive coupons (they could choose more than one response). More than half want to receive their coupons as FSIs in the Sunday newspaper (60%) or in the mail (55%), while nearly half prefer coupons from a store circular (48%) or on a product package (46%). Forty-four percent favor coupons from a shelf dispenser, while under one-third prefer them handed out in the store (29%) or generated by a frequent shopper card (32%). Thirty-seven percent prefer them generated after a purchase at checkout.

Consumers have long relied on coupons to decrease their weekly shopping bill. When asked to choose the range that best describes their total weekly expenditures on groceries, household products, and health and beauty care items in all stores, most respondents fell into the $75-$99 range (27%), followed closely by the $50-$74 range (26%). Those who spend between $100 and $149 constitute about 20%.

The popularity of coupons was recently underscored by the consumer backlash to the recent announcement that Giant Eagle supermarkets would no longer honor double the discount posted on manufacturers' coupons.

“Consumers and manufacturers alike are moving toward the trend of lower coupon usage overall, opting for more-specialized loyalty programs and everyday savings,” Rob Borella, senior director of marketing and corporate communications for the Pittsburgh-based chain, said in a statement when its decision was announced.

Local reaction to the news was quick and severe. Individuals and consumer groups such as the Web community Northeast Ohio Couponers were outraged and vowed to boycott Giant Eagle stores. Taken by surprise, the chain backtracked and agreed to continue double coupons through September as a transitional period. Finally, it decided to reinstate the double coupon program up to and including 99 cents in the competitive Pittsburgh market, while simultaneously reducing the everyday prices of 750 national-brand and private-label items. The everyday price of Minute Rice, for instance, fell from $2.95 to $1.49; San Gorgio Lasagna from $1.75 to $1.55; and Ortego Taco Sauce from $3.09 to $2.

“Continuing our efforts to lower everyday prices and providing customers the best overall value are critical pieces of our corporate strategy and respond to our customers' needs,” said Brett Merrell, Giant Eagle's senior vice president of marketing, in a statement. “Our ability to make these price reductions is a result of the internally focused cost savings initiatives we have enacted. This is the first in a series of price reductions we have planned, and they are in addition to our promotional programs such as weekly specials, double coupons and fuelperks!” fuel rewards.

Product sampling is another promotion favored by consumers. During the past year, 56% of the survey's respondents received product samples in the mail, while the Internet (38%) and inside/on a package (37%) were the second and third most popular delivery vehicles. Respondents were very clear as to what their source of samples should be — 67% prefer the mail, 59% favor in the store, 45% want samples inside or on a package, and 42% want them through the Internet.

The efficacy of sampling promotions was made evident in the survey results. Nearly half (47%) of consumers said they try most (about three-quarters) of the free samples they receive, while just 38% report that they often buy a product after trying a free sample in the store.

While the Internet receives less than enthusiastic support as a delivery vehicle for coupons, consumers have clearly investigated the Web for bargains. When asked about how important the Internet is to their shopping experience, 44% report signing up on a manufacturer's website to get a free sample, 43% said they obtained recipes online, and 31% signed up on a manufacturer's website to get a coupon.

Regardless of these preferences for promotional vehicles, consumers are clearly looking for lower prices on groceries, household products and HBC products. When asked about their shopping habits, 60% of respondents either “strongly agree” or “agree somewhat” that price is more important than the brand, 55% say they buy discounted items more often, and 45% buy store-brand products often.

Other results:

  • Fifty-three percent of consumers would like contests and sweepstakes to be personalized, and virtually the same number (52%) would prefer to be automatically entered through their supermarket shopper card.

  • Fifty-one percent don't mind retailers tracking their purchases as long as they get a discount.

  • Sixty-three percent have received bonus packs in the past year.

  • Nineteen percent have received free merchandise in exchange for a mail-in proof of purchase.

Personal Touch

One of two respondents like customized promotions

Indicate which of the following statements describes your shopping habits:

I like it when I get coupons or other discounts/offers that are personalized just for me 53%
I like it when I am automatically enteredinto a contest/sweepstakes through mysupermarket “shopper” card 52%
I get multiple “shopper” cards from various supermarkets 39%
Respondents checked all that apply.

ABOUT THE STUDY

This is Part II of SN's annual Survey of Manufacturer Promotional Practices.

Developed by SN and fielded by Insight Express, a Stamford, Conn.-based market research firm, the online survey polled about 100 primary household shoppers about several promotions from manufacturers and retailers. It was conducted in August. Nearly three out of four (72%) of those surveyed were female, with the majority being 25 to 54 years old.

Part I, which highlighted where manufacturers said they are putting their promotional dollars, ran in the Sept. 24 issue of SN.

Coupon Preference

Six of 10 respondents prefer to receive coupons via FSIs

Indicate which of the following statements describes how you prefer to receive product coupons:

Through color leaflets in the Sundaynewspapers 60%
In the mail 55%
In a store circular 48%
Inside/on a product package 46%
From a coupon dispenser on the shelf 44%
At the store checkout (coupons printed after purchases) 37%
Respondents checked all that apply.

You've Got Mail

Most people like getting samples in the mail

From which of the following sources do your prefer receiving grocery samples?

In the mail 67%
Over the Internet 42%
Handed out in-store 59%
Inside/on a product package 45%
Respondents checked all that apply.