Paper coupons rule – even with Gen Y

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Much of the time and effort marketers spend devising card-linked offers and creating online or mobile discount codes for shoppers may be wasted, according to new US research reported on the Warc website. The research shows that almost two thirds of US consumers still prefer to use paper coupons.

The survey covered 1029 adults aged over 18 – 819 of whom used credit or debit cards; 63% of American credit/debit cardholders who used coupons said they most frequently present coupons from newspapers, mailings and other paper products.

Entering a discount code online was a distant second (17%), followed by presenting a coupon or discount code on one’s phone (15%).

But only 3.5% said that card-linked offers were the most common way they redeemed coupons.

“Dead trees aren’t dead when it comes to coupons,” said Matt Schulz,’s senior industry analyst. “Plenty of Americans are still opening their snail mail and reading the Sunday paper. I expect paper coupons to lose some market share, though, as consumers and brands get even more comfortable using them electronically.”

A majority of Americans (85%) use coupons – 24% often, 29% sometimes and 32% occasionally.

And while paper coupon usage decreases with income and increases with age, even 18-24 year-olds were found to be paper coupons about twice as much as any other method.

But there is a willingness to use other methods if these are made simple, and card-linked offers are possibly the easiest of these. In fact, 42% of credit/debit cardholders said they would prefer to have discounts automatically applied to their payment cards; 29% weren’t sure and 27% were opposed.

Roughly half the survey respondents had heard of one or more of the common card-linked offer programs, and of those, nearly nine in ten had tried one.

“With the holiday travel and shopping seasons upon us, consumers shouldn’t ignore these opportunities to save money and earn more rewards,” Schulz said. “These can be great benefits people don’t even know they have.”

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