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The Future of Couponing: Where We Are and Where We’re Going

The Future of Couponing: Where We Are and Where We’re Going

Coupons, in all their forms, continue to be a huge part of the consumer experience. While the way coupons are accessed and used is constantly evolving, coupons continue to prove to be a popular option for consumers, and a great marketing opportunity for brands. In this post we’re going to go over some of the ways that couponing continues to be a vital form of marketing, and what the future of couponing could mean for your marketing efforts.

Where We Are

Digital is all the rage, but despite our futuristic techno-consumer world, people still want real, tangible coupons. Their tangibility translates to a higher perceived value among customers who love to clip them from flyers and newspapers, print them off the internet, and receive them in the mail. They even love to watch how others use coupons on shows like Extreme Couponing. In certain industries, consumers even expect to find coupons for what they’re looking for, like searching for a tire rotation or oil change coupon.

One way that consumers are accessing coupons today is through sites like, where they are able to search for just the right coupons for their purchase. Print at home couponing technology is great for businesses, as it offers advanced fraud protection while enhancing marketing, by allowing couponers to “share” a particularly good coupon with their friends through social media.

Direct mail (like Valpak’s Blue Envelope) continues to be a great vehicle for coupon delivery as well. Direct mail can enhance a business’s marketing by getting coupons — and other marketing messages — in the hands of targeted consumers, at the right time.

Another way is through deal sites that offer a slightly different take on the traditional coupon model. Rather than a free coupon being redeemed at the point of sale, customers buy into deals from participating businesses, saving between 50 and 90 percent off retail value in the process.  Consumers love discounts, but businesses don’t always fare so well when deep discounts are made like this. Since offering such big discounts can seriously cut into a business’s profit margins, it can be harder to see a return on your marketing investment. Depending on what business you are in, huge markdowns can also hurt the perceived value of your brand. Whether this model is right for you depends on a variety of factors worth looking into before making that decision.

Where We’re Going

While paper coupons continue to be popular and sought after, we know that digital coupons have a huge place in the consumer path as well. How coupons are used today might differ from how coupons will be used in the future based on many trends and variables. But we can make some reasoned hypotheses.

Digital coupons will surely continue to play a larger role in how people use coupons, especially when they can be delivered and accessed on mobile devices. More and more consumers are using smartphones to not only find, but especially to redeem coupons. It’s like carrying a file full of coupons you spent hours cutting, but instead are within a click of a button on your iPhone in your pocket.

They can be easily saved, scanned, and redeemed making the use of coupons a little less of a chore. Apps, such as Favado, allow consumers to compare prices across local stores and discover the best deals on products.

Mobile wallets, such as Google Wallet and Apple Pay, that utilize NFC chips in smartphones are becoming an increasingly popular way for consumers to make payments as well. As consumers’ physical wallets begin to be replaced with smartphones, it’s only natural that coupons will move to this system as well.

Mobile coupons are especially a great way to target millennials, who love coupons. Surprisingly to some, they use them even more than their parents, and with one in three millennials using an NFC mobile wallet to make payments this year, mobile coupons are the clear winner, especially since they offer better conversion tracking than some paper coupons can.

While the mediums of coupon delivery may be constantly changing, one thing is for sure — saving money never goes out of style. When implemented correctly, coupons can be a great marketing tool that can bring in new business, cement customer loyalty, and just plain get people excited about shopping, whether they’re clipped, printed, or emailed. The best marketing strategy involves multiple mediums (from print to digital) to ensure you are reaching the right people in the right places.