EXTREME COUPONING – WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER PAY FULL PRICE?

Money doesn’t grow on trees. You work hard all week, to provide for yourself and your family. Do you pay attention to the bills you pay, and the things you buy at retail?

No? Well, you should, read the first line again, and you will see why. The first thing to understand about couponing, is that you have a simple goal, to save money, or to put it in even simpler words, every single dollar counts.

It doesn’t mater if you are rich or average like me, you should save money. It really is a good habit to get into. But it is not easy as it sounds like. There are many hurdles, which may prevent you from saving money.

The biggest culprit of them all, is impulse shopping. Some people buy things randomly because they either thought the ad for the product was good, or the package looked cool. Some look at a poster and assume the product is good. Some look at a list of features and buy the product without doing the homework.

And what homework would that be you ask? There are three things you need to do.  First, sit down and give this some thought. Do you really need to buy the product you have in your mind. If the answer is no, i.e., you are not going to use the product much, or you think you may put it to use rarely. Don’t buy it. This is a challenge, but you must remain strong, and avoid splurging.

Second, check the product description thoroughly, multiple times if needed. If you are confused, you can Google and find something relevant to it, like a YouTube video. The best source however is the manufacturer’s, or the software or game developer’s website. Does the product look like something you will use or like? Do you buy a phone because it looks shiny and colorful? No, you check for reviews from other users, and read what they have to say. And then you note down the pros and cons as required, right? Do this for anything you buy and you will save a lot of money.

And finally, Google the price of the product. This is the most important step, and you should not be lazy to do this. Don’t get fooled by fake discounts. A lot of stores put a banner saying sale, or an ad which says big sale, or something. If you look closely, they will not mention all the products but only a few. And the one you want may or may not have a discount on its price tag. So pay attention to the price carefully.

Hey, I do all this already. So how is this Extreme Couponing? It is not. We haven’t gotten to that part yet.

Let us take for example, you want to order a pizza, What do you do ? You open the pizza store’s website, or the mobile app, and browse the menu. You look around, adding toppings, sides, etc, and then decide to checkout. It is on the payment screen, that you notice a sentence which says “Enter Coupon code” or “Redeem your coupon”.

You usually do a quick search on Google, and see if you can get a pizza coupon which allows you to save a few dollars. There is nothing wrong with this, in fact you should be proud that you are taking time to save money, no matter how little the amount is, that you are saving.

Whenever I browse reddit or some forums, I always see people arguing about prices. There are always 2  sides to a coin, but the most common comparison factor in these rants, is a cup of coffee. The argument goes like this, someone says $4.99 is expensive for this product, and that they will wait for a discount. Another person immediately attacks with a reply saying, it’s cheaper than a cup of coffee, get over it.

Which of the two people, do you think is the smarter one? The logic behind the person who says the product is cheap is correct, but his advice is actually wrong, both in the tone, and also when it comes to saving money. It is the person who said that he will wait for a discount, that guy is really the smart one here.

An easy way to prevent yourself  from spending money, is to make some goals to achieve. Keep it simple though, like “I want to save this amount of money in my bank account”. Or you could divert your savings to buy things too, like “I want to build a PC, or buy this particular phone, and I need to save money for it”. You could put the money in a piggy bank, or a jar to save up too, and maybe wait for a sale to come like on Black Friday or Cyber Monday and save even more. If you think you are getting good at it, make the goal bigger, like saving up for a car or even a house.

An excellent way to save up even more on your expenditure, is to use coupons whenever possible. You can collect coupons at stores, restaurants, newspapers, fliers, etc, and use them to save money.

But, more importantly you should really consider applying the same principles to online shopping too. Nowadays people buy everything from food, stationery, electronic devices and other goodies on their phone or on the web. This also adds up to the impulse buying problem. We advise you to resist the temptation, and instead follow the tips we give.

Tips for Extreme Couponing:

You should really make it a practice to add products to your wish list, instead of buying them right away. Patience is the key here. Observe the changes in prices as they happen over time.  Compare the prices on different stores, and you will quickly learn how to save more money. Most products drop their prices over time, usually applies to hardware, which the retailer wants to get off the shelf, instead of it gathering dust.

But the same cannot be said about software. Usually the majority of software are sold directly through the developer’s website, and are made available as digital downloads. The thing is, discounts or sales on these stores happen rarely, if not never. This is because of lack of marketing usually, more than anything, and also because the developers need to cover their computing and other operations.

But you don’t have to absolutely pay the full price for the software, after all saving is our goal here. And that is why we are here to help. You see, there are a lot of software companies, or developers, who offer a coupon redemption option on their store. Using which you can buy their premium software at an affordable price.

For example take a look at the screenshot below:

Extreme Couponing - Why you should never pay full price?

It shows you how much the software originally costs, which may be considered as a high price for some people. But then again, look at the discounted price, and you will nod in agreement that it is an incredible offer, because you are saving a lot.

And that is possible, thanks to a coupon. This is actually just a small example of one of the coupons we offer.

Think about the software which you use. You may have to buy an antivirus, a graphics editor, a multimedia player, a video converter, an office suite, or a video editor, a screenshot and video recording tool, encryption utilities, plugins etc.

Imagine if you pay the full price for all these. It could easily cross a thousand bucks or more. Now, what if you had coupons for each software, and buy them using the discount which the coupons give you. How much money could you save by couponing? You can almost cut the prices by half. But the thing is, it depends on the availability of the discount and the price of the product really. Sometimes the software you want to buy may not have a discount immediately,  and you will have to wait for it. But hey you are actually saving money by simply waiting, right?

This is what we call extreme couponing. By saving up a little on every software, you can literally save hundreds of dollars, which you can use for anything you want.

Coupon Buffer partners with many developers, to offer you the best discount on an incredible library of software. As affiliates we earn a little money, developers get more sales, and you get a quality product at a discounted price and save your hard earned money. It’s a in-win-win situation, if you look at it that way.

A lot of third party websites try to offer similar deals, but are those genuine stores? Besides looking for the https connection and the lock symbol in the address bar, while purchasing something online, pay attention to the URL itself. Some websites are shady and take the payment on their own store on insecure connections, leaving you no clue for contacting support in case of any issues.

We at Coupon Buffer, sell software through reliable third-party services, and whenever possible, via the payment page, and the gateway of the software developer themselves.

COMPLETE COUPON TERMS DICTIONARY

You maybe familiar with tips on how to save money by using coupons.  If not, go and read our previous article to learn about the various methods to cut down your expenses. But are you familiar with the terms and abbreviations used by coupon websites?

They may look like they are not using common English you know, and in fact that it is true. Because the Coupon lingo, which websites use is quite sophisticated.

Don’t worry about that though, we made a cool Coupon Terms Dictionary, with detailed descriptions, just to help you. When you become familiar with these abbreviations, you will be able to find more coupons, and also judge which ones offer the best value, and which ones you cannot miss.

  1. AC- This term is used to mention the price after a coupon has been applied, and hence called after coupon.
  2. ALA – A term you should often look out for, as it determines that the discount offered is “As low as it will ever be”, meaning the product will never go on sale below the price offered by the coupon.
  3. AR – When you buy something at a store, sometimes a portion of the purchase price, is returned to you by the seller, this is called rebate. Some coupons offer rebates for purchases made when a coupon is in effect, so the term means After Rebate.
  4. B1G1 – This one is everyone’s favorite, because it means buy one product and get another one for free.
  5. B2G1 – Similar to the one above, but you have to buy two products to get one for free.
  6. Blinkie – SmartSource coupon dispensed near a product in a store.
  7. BOGO – Another way to say buy one get one free.
  8. BOLO – Be on the look out for is a term used by coupon users, wen they want a particular coupon or coupon for a specific product or website.
  9. CAT – Also called catalina, these coupons are dispensed at the cash register when you make the payment.
  10. C/O – This term means cents off, as in the number of cents off of a product’s price. Usually used for discounts on low priced products.
  11. CO – Another term for cents off.
  12. Coupon – A discount code, or a direct discount (such as we offer), for a particular product, using which you can buy the said product, for a lower price than it is normally sold for.
  13. Couponing – The practice of using coupons for most purchases you make, so you save more money. Can also be used for collecting coupons for future purchases.
  14. CPN – This is short for coupon, which as you know is the heart of the money saving concept.
  15. CQ – Used to denote a competitor’s coupon, especially when the website is offering a better discount than its rival.
  16. CRT– Cash register tape, aka the receipt which you get from a store.
  17. DCRT – Dated cash register tape, sometimes required for rebate.
  18. DCRTC – Dated cash register tape which has a circle around the price of a product, which has a rebate offer.
  19. DD – Dead deal, as in a discounted sale which is no longer available. This is an ethical of advertising the store’s past offers, and also to inform the buyer that they cannot avail the offer because it has expired.
  20. DND – Do not double or “Does not double”, usually a term used to indicate the buyer not to use multiple coupons on a single product, or a specific product, often from the same manufacturer or seller.
  21. DNT – Similar to above, (refer to Triple Coupons)
  22. Double coupon – A coupon which offers twice the discount of its face value. Normally these coupons are advised to be used specific to the value they carry. So, if you have a cent coupon such as $0.50 or $0.75, do not use them with a product that costs $1, simply because the discount will not be available for the latter.
  23. Doubled coupon – Same as the one above, but done automatically during checkout.
  24. DQ – This is an abbreviated form of “Digital Coupon”, which is what online stores, such as we offer.
  25. EA – Each, or that the coupon is redeemable for every product, or the ones listed on a particular sale page.
  26. Exclusive Coupon: A coupon which can either only be used by you or a specific person, or is tied to a particular seller or store.
  27. Exclusive Deal: A sale which only you can avail, usually with a unique coupon, or is only offered by a one store or a seller.
  28. Exp – This is a tricky one as it can be used to indicated three statuses of coupons. Expires (soon), or to mention the Expiration date of a specific coupon, or to indicate a coupon has expired.
  29. Extreme Couponing – The practice of extreme money saving, by using coupons as much as possible, to maximize your savings.
  30. FAC – Free after coupon, similar to free item coupon mentioned below.
  31. FAR – Similar to AR, but it stands for free after rebate, as in you get a full refund after buying the product using a coupon.
  32. Filler – Sometimes you may be required to buy products to reach a certain amount, say for example $10 to avail a discount coupon. You can add a product which you wish to buy, and add random cheap products to bring up the price high enough to use the coupon, so this is sort of filling your shopping cart.
  33. Flash Sale – A sudden sale which is held to surprise buyers. These sales offer great value for money, sometimes offering the lowest prices ever, and as a result are quite often time limited sales, which may only be available for few hours or a day or two.
  34. Free item coupon – A coupon which lets you get a product for free, without having to make any prior purchase.
  35. Freebie – Something which you get for free for purchasing a product.
  36. FS – When you buy a physical or boxed product, sometimes the seller will offer to ship it to your address free of charge, when you use a coupon code. This is called as free shipping or free shipping code.
  37. FSI – A booklet of coupons called free standing insert, usually distributed in Sunday newspapers.
  38. GC – Gift cards or gift certificates or gift coupons are those which you can give to someone for their birthday, or a special occasion like a wedding anniversary or even for the holiday season, and the person can use them to buy whatever product they want as long as it is within the redeemable limit, or value of the coupon.
  39. GDA – When there is a very good discount, some websites mark them as such to indicate a “Good deal alert”, so buyers don’t miss the discount. Usually this is used for a steep discount, or for a lowest price ever sort of deal.
  40. Hangtag (HGT or HT) – A coupon found hanging on a bottle’s neck, jar, etc
  41. HDA – Hot deal alert, similar to GDA, but to indicate a popular product is on sale at an excellent price.
  42. Insert – A booklet of coupons issued in Sunday newspapers.
  43. IP – A coupon which you can print from the internet to redeem at a local store. Could also be a form which you have to fill up to avail a discount.
  44. ISO – Usually used by coupon hunters, when they are “in search of” a particular coupon, for a product or a store.
  45. Limited Time Offer: Similar to flash sales, but these are often longer, spanning from a few days to a week or two, until the stocks last. This may be restricted to one or more products.
  46. Limited Time Sale: Quite similar to the one above, but may include multiple products, depending on the store’s line up.
  47. Loyalty Bonus: Coupons or discounts rewarded to regular customers of a store.
  48. Loyalty Card: Similar to loyalty bonus, but more of a permanent reward where you can accumulate points to redeem a reward, or better discounts.
  49. Matchup: The process of matching a coupon to a product which is on sale. This saves you more money, than when you use a coupon to purchase something at its regular price.
  50. MFR: A coupon straight from the manufacturer of a product. You can try using it by double couponing for saving more money.
  51. MIR – Some sellers offer you a rebate when you purchase a software, and fill up a form, the information in which is used for sending a partial refund. This happens both on online and offline stores.
  52. Money Maker – A Coupon whose face value, is more than the actual price of a product. So yes, you actually get money for using this coupon to buy a product for free., but instead of giving you cash the store may let you use the balance amount as a discount on something else you buy now.
  53. MQ – A coupon from the Manufacturer, similar to an MFR.
  54. NAZ – The name, address and zip code information which you have to provide, to buy a product online. This is usually for shipping the product to the buyer.
  55. NCB – Some coupons grant you a rebate, also referred to as cashback. When a coupon clearly says NCB, it means it will not give you any cashback at all. But that’s okay as it may grant you a discount.
  56. NCR – Used by sellers when they provide information or terms and conditions, which are not coupon related.
  57. NED – Some coupons can be availed anytime, with no validity date, mentioned whatsoever, These year round discounts are referred to as no expiration date coupons.
  58. Net Cost – The final price of a product, which is calculated after applying a coupon, or a discounted price, and other offers.
  59. NIB – A product which is in new in box, or in mint condition from the manufacturer.
  60. NIP – Quite similar to a new in box product, only this is called new in package.
  61. NLA – Something you don’t want to see while looking for coupons, because it stands for “No longer available. Can be an expired coupon, or a dead deal, or a discontinued product, or a product which is no longer offered for sale.
  62. OOS – Kind of bad news like the one above, but its better because it says a product is out of stock, usually because it is sold out. That means it could come back on sale, depending on the demand from buyers.
  63. Overage: Very similar to moneymaker, but when you use a coupon to get a product for free and still have money left from the face value of the coupon, you can use the balance to avail a a discount on something else in the store.
  64. OYNO: Certain sellers may offer discounts, “on your next order”, instead of the one you are placing right now. This can be a way of a loyalty bonus, to thank the customer by offering them a discount when they buy something the next time.
  65. OYNP – On your next purchase, ala the same as the one we explained above this.
  66. Piggyback – Stacking one coupon over another, sometimes specific for each product, to reduce expenses.
  67. Peelie – A coupon which you can peel off a package and redeem for a discount, or freebie.
  68. PM – Price Matching is done on both online and offline stores, when you as a buyer show some evidence to the seller which proves a rival seller is offering the same product, but with at a better discount. The seller may then offer a discount to match the price offered by his competitor..
  69. POP – Proof of purchase, or a receipt which you may have to send a scanned copy of, to the seller, when you want to make use of a rebate offer, or to get a refund.
  70. PP – The purchase price of a product, often called as the regular or normal price.
  71. PP – Though the abbreviation’s letters spell out similar to its predecessor, this is also widely used as a shortened name for Paypal, the secure online payment method used by millions worldwide.
  72. PPFF – A reference to Paypal’s friends and family payment option.
  73. Printable – A coupon code which you can print and redeem at a local store, during the checkout process.
  74. PSA – This refers to “price starting at”, or can be in the plural form “prices”, to attract buyers to purchase a product which is on sale.
  75. Q – This is the shortest way to refer to the word coupon. It is not a very commonly used one these days.
  76. R – A coupon which has geo-restrictions, meaning it can only be used in a particular region. You can come across these at many online stores, which employ a regional pricing model.
  77. Rain Check – A voucher or a slip of paper, which is signed by the store manager, entitling the buyer to buy a product at a sale-price later, when the product was out of stock at the time of signing the paper.
  78. Stacking – This is also like coupon doubling, but sometimes you will be able to stack multiple coupons, or a coupon and a sale, to get a deeper discounts. Stackable coupons can also be a combination of discounts from a manufacturer and a seller.
  79. Super Doubles – These are coupons that offer double the face value, for e.g: a $1 discount coupon may get you a $2 discount. This should not be confused with coupon doubling or stacking.
  80. Surprise Sale – Kind of like a flash sale, but may be held to to celebrate a store’s landmark achievement, or a product’s launch.
  81. Tearpad – A set of coupons, or rebate or refund forms usually found hanging at shelves in stores.
  82. Time limited deal – Sales which are set to last over a period of hours, days or weeks.
  83. Triple Coupon – Just like double coupon, but offers triple the face value of the coupon.
  84. TMF- Try Me Free is yet another form of rebate, usually in the “mail in rebate” format, where you get a full refund of the product, which you purchased earlier.
  85. Unique Coupon: A coupon which can only redeemed by the person who has it, i.e., which has a unique code per buyer.
  86. UPC: Universal Product Code refers to a code which can be used for tracking a specific product.
  87. WL – Wish List, or the products which a person wants to buy, but hasn’t because he is waiting for a discount on their prices.
  88. WSL – A term used to represent discounts, sales or coupons offered while supplies last, and if the product goes out of stock, the refreshed inventory will not have the sale price on it.
  89. WYB: You may get a discount or a rebate, only when you buy a product. This may not be visible in the store’s listing, but the final discounted price can be seen at the checkout page.
  90. YMMV: Your Mileage May Vary, is something which coupon lovers tell when sharing coupons with other users, or to warn them that their shopping experience may be different as opposed to the own they themselves had.

Coupon terms which are store specific, and abbreviated names of various retail supply chains:

  1. Albies – Albertsons grocery store.
  2. BTFE – Box Tops for Education which lets you redeem points from products of Kimberly-Clark and General Mills.
  3. CLFE (LFE) – Campbell’s Labels for Education, which allows schools to send labels from Campbell’s products, to earn money.
  4. CVS – Consumer Value Store pharmacy
  5. ECB – Extra Care Bucks which are rewarded for CVS purchases
  6. FL – Food Lion grocery store
  7. FLIP – Internet printable coupons which FL offers.
  8. GM – General Mills food company
  9. HT – Harris Teeter grocery store.
  10. IVC – Walgreens instant value coupon usually found in their store’s catalog.
  11. KG – Kroger grocery store.
  12. KM – Kmart retail chain store.
  13. PG (P&G) – Proctor & Gamble insert coupon (Sunday newspapers)
  14. RA – Rite-Aid pharmacy
  15. RR – Catalina coupons issued at Walgreens are called Register Rewards.
  16. SCR – Rite-Aid pharmacy’s single check rebate offer.
  17. SS – Insert coupons issued by News Marketing America’s SmartSource in Sunday newspapers, Blinkie coupons, printable coupons.
  18. STG – Super Target retail chain store + grocery store
  19. SW – Safeway grocery store
  20. SWM – Super Walmart retail chain store + grocery store
  21. WD – Winn Dixie grocery store.
  22. WM – Walmart retail chain store

Which Coupon abbreviations should I watch out for?

I’m glad you asked this question. Many of the above terms are a great way to keep an eye out for, or for Googling for the best deals and discounts.

The coupons which offer the best value for money, are undoubtedly “free item coupon” because you get the product without paying a cent, but these are quite rare, and are usually samples of newly launched products given away to raise brand awareness.

Rebates are always welcome, even if it is a meager 1% or 10% or a full 100% rebate, think of it as getting free money. Moneymaker and loyalty discounts are a great way to get useful products, and also build a rapport with the store you frequent.

B1G1 or BOGO, and B2G1 are excellent offers to watch out for as you literally get another of the same product for free. Super Doubles, Double Coupons and Triple Coupons are also a good way to minimize your expenses.

GDA’s and HDA’s are usually what people are after. If you are an extreme couponer, you must learn the skills of coupon matchup to use the coupon only when a sale is in place. ALA’s are well worth waiting for, because you know for sure the price won’t drop further. Make use of price matching whenever possible to save a few extra bucks.

Above all else, patience is the key, if you want to save money. Take your rime to go through the deal pages, or shelves in a store and see the prices of each product, and compare them to see which one offers you more quantity for a lesser price. Always keep an eye out for coupons in the display of stores, or the packaging of products.

We really hope all these terms will help you understand the deals which you find on the internet om a better way. A lot of people use these abbreviations when sharing discounts, as it is easier than typing the full words, and also because some networks such as Twitter do not allow a lot of characters in a single message.

Happy Couponing.

WHY THE FUTURE OF COUPONS MATTERS TO EVERYONE

Even if you don’t care about coupons or have never heard about them (you must be living in a cave), you can’t deny the incredible impact they have in society. Since their inception, coupons have had the power of saving industries during recession and exponentially boosting growth of multiple businesses.

If you’re an entrepreneur, business owner, investor or professional in any industry, you should take note; otherwise, your competitors will – to your detriment.

The Extensive Impact of Coupons

Understanding the far-reaching impact of coupons will show you just why everyone must pay attention to the future of coupons

1. Coupons Boosted Business Growth During Downturns

As far back as 1972, the popularity of coupons was so evident that the National Coupon Month was created. In fact, the circular FSI (free standing insert) which featured coupons helped save newspapers, especially during the Great Recession.

Coupons were so effective in boosting newspaper sales that people were buying 2 and even five copies of the Sunday paper… just for the free standing insert.

This peculiar ability of boosting business growth during downturns continued as couponing progressively moved online and mobile…

2. Coupons Created an Online Niche

Several blogs like The Krazy Coupon Lady gained tremendous traction based on the increasing popularity of online coupons. Notably, such popularity of online coupons and the related tremendous growth of coupon-focused blogs occurred during The Great Recession. This literally pulled bloggers out of debt in a time when the nation was in an economic hole.

Moreover, a whole new industry has been created around coupons.

3. Businesses Emerged Around Coupons

Various coupon sites like RetailMeNot and Coupon Buffer have become go-to sources for coupons. Companies devoted to coupon redemption were set up as far back as 1957 (the Nielsen Coupon Clearing House), with newer companies focused on mobile couponing.

Coupons have become such a common and necessary component in retail, with a whole range of associated terms like BOGO (Buy One Get One Free), Blinkie (coupons in boxes – which sometimes had blinking lights – attached to store shelves) and CAT/ Catalina (coupons printed at the register after making a purchase).

The phenomenon that’s couponing also inspired the show Extreme Couponing in 2010, sparking a nationwide frenzy.

4. The Consequences of the Print-to-Digital Coupon Shift

The print-to-digital coupon shift has had both positive and negative consequences.

As more and more advertisers have shifted from print to digital, the traditional news print has shrunk by 39 percent during the last 20 years. That’s 20,000 jobs gone. The highest job count in newsrooms was 1989 with 56,900 jobs, which progressively shrank over the years to 32,900 in 2014.

What is interesting is, while 60 percent of newspaper jobs vanished within a period of 26 years from 1990 to 2016, internet jobs gradually increased during that period from less than 30,000 to about 200,000.

No wonder The Wall Street Journal started laying off staff for its print edition in 2016, while expanding its digital sections.

What Will Influence the Future of Coupons?

Multiple factors could influence the future of coupons, and determine which direction they take and how much of an impact they’ll have.

1. Shoppers Prefer Coupons

A 2016 study by RetailMeNot and Placed – “The State of Coupons and the Role of Mobile” – shows that shoppers (3 out of 5) prefer coupons over other promotions. Rebates come in second with 1 out of 3 consumers seeking them out before shopping.

Moreover, 85 percent of shoppers for non-grocery items search for coupons before visiting the store, based on the 2016 study by RetailMeNot and Placed.

The trends of online searches on Google support these findings, showings sustained interest in coupons for the past 8 years.

Google search trends for coupon, promo code, promo, coupon code and coupons

Interestingly, a coupon is enough to convince almost half of consumers (49 percent) to switch brands. In fact, 60 percent of mobile coupon users would gladly switch brands when food shopping, if offered a coupon.

Considering the demand from shoppers and potential benefit for retailers, coupons are here to stay.

2.Potential for Greater Online and Mobile Coupon Adoption

In 1887, coupons came in after newspapers and magazines had already been in circulation since 1690 within the US. Hence, the challenge people faced was adapting to the new coupon inserts, since they already had almost two centuries to adapt to newspapers.

The internet age faced a different challenge, since the internet was started in 1991 and smartphones in 1994, after coupons had existed for more than 100 years. Hence, it has been more about people adapting to the online world rather than coupons (and perhaps also shifting their long-held allegiance from print to online and mobile). In fact, approximately 40 million Americans don’t use the internet.

Since we’ve only had about 20 years of online coupons and 10 of mobile coupons, there’s certainly a good chance both could grow to surpass print.

3.Growing E-commerce

Online and mobile coupon use will increase with growing e-commerce.

US e-commerce sales in 2016 were valued at $394.86 billion, which was a 15.6 percent increase from the previous year. This makes up 11.7 percent of total retail sales.

Looked at critically, 41.6 percent of all retail sales growth came from e-commerce, considering that retail sales (excluding fuel, automobile, restaurant and bar sales, which aren’t normally bought online) had only a 3.9 percent increase from $3.247 trillion to $3.375 trillion.

4.Growing M-Commerce

Mobile coupon use will increase with growing m-commerce.

Just as department stores, malls, Big Box retail, TV shopping and online shopping were revolutionary concepts that created major impacts in the history of retail, mobile is poised to have a similar influence.

M-commerce made up 19% of US retail e-commerce sales in 2014, which is expected to rise to 27% by late 2018. BI Intelligence forecasts that m-commerce will make up 45% of US ecommerce by 2020, with a value of $284 billion.

M-commerce forecast. Image source: BI Intelligence

5.More Consumers Searching for Mobile Coupons

2016 study by RetailMeNot and Placed – “The State of Coupons and the Role of Mobile” – shows more consumers (42.8%) use mobile apps to search for coupons, which is more than the proportion of consumers searching for print coupons (35.9%).

Retailers only need to fulfil this existing demand for mobile coupons.

6.Mobile and Online Might Not Completely Replace Paper Coupons

Paper coupons flourish in physical stores, and if the trend in the e-commerce world is anything to go by, they won’t be completely replaced by online and mobile.

a.E-Commerce Going Back to Brick and Mortar

In a strange twist to the impending e-commerce takeover and death of physical stores, as detailed in a 2014 Wall Street Journal article, a 2016 article in The Guardian highlights e-commerce stores setting up physical shops to remain competitive.

This issue was also evaluated in a 2014 Harvard Business Review article showing how half of e-commerce sales were going to retailers with physical stores. Such retailers take advantage of the omni-channel retail concept. Basically, their online presence complements the physical shops and vice versa.

b.Guideshops: The Mid-Point Between B&M and E-Commerce

Despite the physical stores, all sales can still be online. The answer: guideshops.

“Guideshops” or “Webrooms” are a different form of omnichannel retailing, whereby shoppers only try on clothing in the physical locations before ordering them online. Products are delivered to their doorsteps.

Guideshops help overcome the challenge for retailers of dealing with inventory from stocking a physical shop. It also benefits clients who can see and feel the actual product beforehand, which was a critical issue for the jewelry e-tailer, Blue Nile.

c.E-commerce Unsustainable?

An interesting research by Bain shows that e-commerce platforms have unsustainably lower profit margins, rather than the often-assumed economic advantages of lower costs. This could affect the growth of e-commerce.
Ultimately, omnichannel (physical and online) retail would likely be the more sustainable option. Hence, online coupons won’t really completely take over the coupon world.

7.Growth of Location-Targeted Advertising

Mobile phones present the unique advantage of precise location-targeting, unlike print and desktops. Hence distribution of mobile coupons is likely to increase with the expected growth of location-targeted advertising/ promotions from $4.3 billion in 2014 to $18.2 billion in 2019.

A significant number of shoppers (36%) actually want location-based coupons. Meaning marketers would just be denying themselves a valuable opportunity if they don’t offer such a service.

8.Coupon Distribution Through AI and Chatbots

Perfection of AI means chatbots would increasingly be used for instant messaging with clients through apps and online platforms. With increasing sophistication, such chatbots can decipher exactly what clients want and offer targeted suggestions and coupon offers.

Already, sites like Amazon, Netflix and PureClarity deliver highly personalized recommendations, evaluating customer behavior data like pages viewed, searches conducted, products purchased and time of day visited.

9.Ease and Better Security Boosting E-Commerce

As stated earlier, e-commerce growth means increased online/ mobile coupons.

More clients are shopping online because of easier and increased security of online payment systems, especially using such platforms as Paypal, Amazon Pay and Apply Pay. Such platforms cancel out the need to use your card on every purchase, speeding up payment and reducing risk exposure.

With increased advancements, transaction can be made simply using fingerprints and online pin numbers.

In particular, All Saints’ conversation rates increased by 34 percent simply by eliminating the need of a credit card at checkout, and instead using Amazon Login and Payments. This cut checkout by two-thirds from 90 seconds (that’s a looong time in the online world) to 30 seconds.

10.Fast Delivery and Delivery Membership Increasing Online Transactions

Fast delivery and delivery membership are making online transactions more convenient.

Such companies as New Look and Boohoo are offering precise delivery, and most retailers offer next-day delivery. With one-time/ yearly, unlimited paid membership on sites like Amazon and ASOS, clients don’t have to worry about delivery when purchasing multiple items. This makes them open to frequent online purchases, meaning more coupon use.

11.Millennials are Saving

Younger Americans seem to be more frugal than the older generations. Which probably explains why more and more of them are using coupons.

The younger generation is becoming more conscious of how they use their money, with 67 percent of 22-year-olds and 76 percent of those in thirties already saving for their retirement, based on a Transamerica study.

It so happens that the current 30-something workers started saving at a much younger age (an average of 25 years), compared to the older generation in their 60s who started at 35 years on average.

12.Increasing Household Debt – On the Verge of Another Coupon Rush?

The US is experiencing increasing debt compounded by lack of or inadequate savings for emergencies and retirement, which bears some similarity to both the Great Depression and Great Recession.

The current US debt levels almost match the debt levels before the Great Recession.

 Q4 2016Q4 2007
Debt Accumulation$60.4 billion$64.7 billion
Total Outstanding Credit Card Debt$978.9 billion$981.8 billion

This means people might seek out and redeem more coupons just as they did during the Great Depression. Even during the Great Recession, coupon redemption rates rose by about 27 percent from 2.6 billion in 2008 to 3.3 billion in 2009, all the way to 3.5 billion in 2011.

Redemption rates during the great recession. Image source: Inmar

13.Americans are Excessive Consumers

Due to current excessive spending habits, a coupon rush might not really happen like it did during the Great Recession and Great Depression, despite a similarity in debt levels.

Couponing during the Great Depression had the added aspect of a frugal lifestyle at the time. During the Great Recession period, people actively sort out savings. That’s unlike the current excessive consumer spending habits, which have seen American consumers rack up an $89.2 billion net increase in credit card debt in 2016, the largest yearly increase since 2007.

14.Americans Have Jobs

The current low unemployment rates would also make a coupon rush less likely as happened during the Great Recession and Great Depression, despite a similarity in debt levels.

Increased coupon redemption rates have often occurred during periods of increased unemployment. This is particularly evident during the Great Depression, which experienced such high unemployment rates as 24 percent (almost a quarter of the labor force). As well as the period following the Great Recession (2008 – 2011), which got to as high as 10 percent unemployment levels and saw a reverse of the gradually decreasing coupon redemption trend.

Coupon redemption vs. unemployment trends. Image source: Inmar

Currently, the US jobless rate is the lowest since May 2007, standing at 4.5 percent in March 2017. This might mean, despite the high debt levels, coupon use might not spike as much as it did in the past.

15.The Mobile-and-Online-Coupon Generation is Using More Coupons

Millennials have shown increasing growth in coupon use, year-on-year, unlike other groups such as baby boomers and generation X. This is a group that has also shown decreasing use of paper coupons and increasing use of mobile and online coupons from 2014 to 2016.

Online and mobile coupon use for 18-35-year-olds rose to 48% and 33% respectively.

The mobile-and-online-coupon generation. Image source: PRRI-US

16.Retailers are Holding Back Potential Online Shoppers

Based on Inmar’s 2016 study, 37 percent of shoppers say they could make orders online from their normal grocery outlets and pick purchases at the brick and mortar (B&M) store.

If the stores would offer such online ordering facilities, even more coupons would be used and redeemed online.

17.Greater Redemption Rates for Mobile Coupons

The increasing online and mobile couponing isn’t just a fashionable trend. Online and mobile platforms offer extensive opportunities and advantages that aren’t possible with print. One such advantage is higher mobile coupon redemption rates.

According to Cellfire, a mobile-coupon company, mobile coupons have between 5 and 20 times the redemption rate of print coupons. Print coupons only have a 1 percent redemption rate.

For marketers seeking greater returns on their investments, mobile coupons are certainly the way to go.

18.Digital Coupons can Be Personalized

CVS Pharmacy, which spent $216 million on advertising in 2016, significantly reduced advertising on circulars in a shift to digital. One of the key reasons was to focus on personalized deals through their rewards program, Extracare. Extracare lets clients access coupons through smartphones, while tracking buying habits.

More retailers are following a similar trend.

19.Mobile Coupons are Convenient

For shoppers, smartphones give them greater mobility than printable or online coupons. Many use them in-store while making purchases. M-coupons also eliminate the tedious tasks of searching for and clipping print coupons.

The Key Insights

From all these data, it’s quite clear that although likely to be diminished, print coupons won’t completely disappear soon. Even so, online and mobile couponing is sure to increase. The extent of this increase will depend on how effectively retailers meet expectations of their clients.

Above all, there’s potential for another coupon rush as seen during the Great Recession.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE FOR DESKTOPS AND MOBILE DEVICES

So, you want to know how to choose the best antivirus software for desktops and mobile devices. This is actually one the most common questions posed by computer and phone users. The answers, well, they differ greatly.

It usually depends on the technical knowledge of the person who answers. Many people often suggest that you don’t need an antivirus. This is really not a very good idea. The people who give you such advice may not be using their computer much, or maybe using it for very limited purposes.

It is possible they only use a virtual machine or some sandbox application, and run a browser inside it. When a virus attack happens in these environments, they delete the entire virtual area, and start a fresh one which they use till the next attack occurs. This scenario, does not apply to normal users. Why?

Well, do you only use the web browser on your computer? No, you may listen to music on the PC, or watch videos on it. Most of this happens using some sort of streaming service nowaways, and some services even have their own desktop client for delivering content to subscribers..

You could play games on the computer, or use it for reading ebooks, or use Office Suites for work related or educational purposes. There are basically endless purposes, and each user differs from one another.

And let me ask you, is the Internet the only way which you get your files? USB flash drives, and portable hard drives are also commonly used for storing and accessing data. And when you plug in a USB storage device to an infected computer, the malware usually makes a copy of itself and stores it on the connected storage device, which it uses to infect another computer, when it is plugged in there. This is how malware spreads locally.

A lot of people often use their Android phones and tablets, or Apple iPhones and iPads as storage devices too. It is easier to carry data in these devices. But what we don’t think of, is that malware which are designed for impacting Windows or macOS won’t affect the operating systems on the mobile devices. But when you plug in the device to your computer to transfer photos, videos, music or documents, the malware on the phone still affect the PC, especially if you don’t have an antivirus installed on the computer.

The point is, you may have tons of data on your computer which you cannot afford to lose. So, which antivirus should you use?

We follow a simple rule. Don’t use a free antivirus. Why? And no, it is not because of the “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product” thing. We think that free antivirus products do not offer the best level of security. Think about it, most free security software, are toned down versions of their premium versions. Most of the important features in such products are disabled, and often pop-up ads of some sort are displayed to prompt the user to upgrade.

Another issue with free antiviruses, is that they don’t usually have any sort of customer support. Why would they, when they are not making money of their product, how can they pay the support staff?

Choose a good premium antivirus, and you will not have to deal with such issues. All the features are available immediately, and in case you run into issues, you will have the expertise of the tech support to assist you in solving the problem.

Here are some of our recommendations for the best antivirus software for desktops:

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus:

bitdefender

BitDefender’s engine can scan for and detect malware, viruses, and ransomware before they can infect your computer. The behavior based scanner proactively blocks zero-day threats even before the antivirus signature is updated with the information about the new malware.

The safe browsing filter, protects your web browser by blocking bad websites from loading, while the Search Advisor scans and marks websites on the results page accordingly. Bitdefender has a Wi-Fi security advisor which can be used to check your network connection for threats, and a superb browser which is sandboxed, to ensure your online banking and transactions are secure. It prevents phishing or online fraud.

The Password Manager which Bitdefender has can store your logins securely, and the Parental Safety can keep kids safe from bad websites.

Bitdefender Internet Security

bitdefender

Bitdefender Internet Security is a great choice to go with, if you want a combination of the best antivirus security for your computer, and a superb two-way firewall which can prevent network intrusions and attacks, as well as prevention of data leaks origination from your system.

BullGuard Antivirus:

bullguard

If you want the lightest antivirus software, you would find BullGuard Antivirus to be among the best. And the detection rates of the antivirus is remarkable, plus it also has a behavioral scanner, a web traffic scanner and email scanner, to prevent infections in all applications. We especially liked the vulnerabilities scanner, which lists all the missing Windows Updates.

BullGuard Internet Security:

bullguard

In addition to the antivirus’ capabilities, the Internet Security also has a 2-way firewall which can prevent attacks and leaks. The Backup option can be used to backup your data locally or to Google Drive or Dropbox or OneDrive. The Parental Controls can be used to block websites which are not safe for children.

You can use the PC Tune Up tools for deleting duplicate files, speeding up your PC’s boot time, cleaning up the storage by deleting large files, and by deleting temporary files, and by fixing registry errors.

Bullguard Premium Protection:

bullguard

The Premium Protection has all the features of the Internet Security, and has two more functions. You can use the online dashboard in Bullguard to check whether your personal or financial details have been leaked on the internet.

The Home Network Scanner is useful, as it can scan your network connection and displays which devices have connected to your now, and in the past, and which of these are a security risk.

VIPRE Advanced Security:

vipre

VIPRE is also among the lightest security software for computers, is one of the fastest in terms of scanning speed. The interface is also one of the simplest in terms of the design.

The antivirus protects your computer from all sorts of threats both offline and online. It has a web scanner which blocks malicious websites from search results, prevents phishing attacks and a Social Watch scanner which checks URLs in Facebook, Twitter, etc.

The two-way firewall monitors the traffic to and fro from your computer’s applications, and blocks malicious activity immediately. The Secure File Eraser can be used to delete files with no chance of recovery, while the History Cleaner can delete your private information from the browsers.

Panda Security offers great security products for a complete protection.

Panda Antivirus Pro:

panda

If you are looking for a light antivirus, you can’t go wrong with Panda Antivirus Pro. It offers an excellent protection for your PC and the detection rates are great. You also get WiFi protection which blocks intruders from attacking your network.

Panda Internet Security:

panda

Panda offers the Internet Security for Windows and Mac, and these have a great firewall which adds an extra layer of security to what the Antivirus Pro has. You can block bad websites using the Parental Control, and use the Data Shield to protect important data from online theft. There is a backup option, which can be used to backup your data to the company’s online storage.

Panda Global Protection:

panda

In addition to what the internet security version offers, the Panda Global Protection adds in a password manager which can securely store your login information. The File Encryption utility is useful for encrypting files, before you send them via email or even upload them to the cloud. The File Shredder securely deletes data, leaving traces of it. The Tuneup utilities are handy to help improve the performance of the computer.

Regardless of which antivirus you choose, it is a good idea to back it up with a secondary layer of protection.

HitmanPro

hitmanpro

Hitman Pro is one such malware scanner, which is available in portable format, so you can use it without installing if you want to. This tool is great at removing stubborn malware infections, which regular antivirus solutions may fail to disinfect. The scanner relies on forensics-based detection, instead of a malware signature database. You can use Hitman Pro to scan for malware, ransomware, viruses, malicious browser cookies, trojans, PUPs, etc, and remove the infections easily.

Malwarebytes Anti-malware:

malwarebytes

Malwarevbytes Anti-malware has been the best secondary scanner in the industry for over a decade now, and the security which it offers has only improved over time. You may have used the free version, which has the on-demand scanner, but the premium version offers a lot more.

Malwarebytes Anti-malware Premium offers real-time protection from malware, viruses, ransomware, spyware, rootkits, etc, and can be used alongside your existing antivirus security solution. It can also prevent bad websites and connections to malicious IP addresses. The anti-exploit shield helps prevent the system from attacks which may try to exploit vulnerabilities in software. There is also an auto-updater which keeps the databases up-to-date, and a task scheduler which can automatically run scans at a time and date which you set, or at regular intervals.

Avira Antivirus Pro:

avira

Avira is renowned for its excellent detection rates, and helps prevent and removing viruses, spyware, malware, worms, Trojans, ransomware etc. It also has a web protection module which can prevent malicious websites from hampering your PC. The mail protection scans your inbox for malware, and blocks malware in attachments, or phishing mails. The child protection helps keep them safe from harmful content on websites including social networks.

Avira Internet Security Suite:

avira

Avira Internet Security has some extra tools in the form of a firewall, a Safe browsing option which prevents malicious websites from loading in the browser, and has backup options to protect your data from malware. The System Speedup tools can be used for optimizing your PC, cleaning junk files, invalid shortcuts, registry entries, etc, managing the startup items, and for defragging your hard drive.

Avira Ultimate Protection Suite:

avira

In addition to all the features of the Internet Security, you get the SuperEasy Driver Updater which can be used to update all your device drivers, and notifies you whenever a new driver is available.

Mobile Devices:

Choosing an antivirus for a mobile device, is much more complicated than for a computer. Why?

Apple has a much greater control over its AppStore, and its iOS operating system, so there are actually no real antivirus apps for iOS. But the Android side of the story, is quite the opposite. The fact that there are a great many fake apps available for Android, makes it all the more difficult to choose an antivirus.

Personally we believe it is better to be safe than sorry. So, we advise using an antivirus on your Android phone. There are many reasons why.

But, a lot of Android users believe that since Android is based on Linux, and that the OS sandboxes each application, malware cannot impact the device. Is that so?

Let us examine this fact. Have you ever used the web browser on your phone? Of course you have, but have you paid attention to the webpages closely. You cannot miss it really, most webpages have some ads or the other.

These ads could be some small banner on the bottom of the webpage, or the top, or both. But the content of the ads themselves, are a cause for worry. Many ads have misleading words like “Speed up your phone” “Make your phone faster” “Clean up your phone”, “Your device is slow, tap to fix it”.

The ads are intelligently designed too, as they read the device’s model name and display that in the ad. Some ads even vibrate the device continuously, with a pop-up message “Your device is infected. Click to clean it”. So the unaware user, is tricked in believing that, and clicks the ad. Occasionally, nothing untoward happens, and you are merely redirected to the Play Store, where you can chose to download an app.

The app may be a reputed one, usually with fake reviews or so, which also plays a role in the user downloading the app. Sometimes, these apps are harmless and in turn may have ads themselves, to boost the revenue of the app’s developer.

But sometimes, the ad on the webpage could be linked to a malicious app. This gets downloaded often silently in the background, or otherwise. If you installed the app, then the chaos begins. In worst case scenarios, the malware app could root your phone.

We have seen such instances on phones under testing scenarios. The malware app began displaying ads randomly on the infected phone. And these ads were not displayed in apps, they began appearing on the homescreen, the settings screen, basically anywhere on the device. This was with no antivirus installed, and the OS didn’t prompt us saying the device is infected.

So, we decided to try and clean the phone by performing a factory reset, which meant that all the data on the device would be lost. But, guess what? The malware had set itself deeply in the system partition, that it managed to survive the reset process.

Then we downloaded an antivirus app on the phone, and ran a scan, and it accurately told us what the malware was. Unfortunately there was no way to remove the malware in a normal way. We had to manually wipe the partitions and flash the firmware from the company’s website to get rid of the malware.

So, there you go. Use an antivirus on your Android phone just to be safe. These days most phones come with 3GB of RAM or more, so you won’t notice any lags by using one anyway. But don’t use a free antivirus, as they don’t really have any good features, and there are a lot of malware apps which are listed as free antivirus apps, which can wreak havoc on your phone.

Just like the paid antivirus logic for computers, opt for a premium solution for your phone. In fact, some premium security solutions do bundle in a mobile security as part of the package.

Bitdefender Total Security

Bitdefender Total Security offers all the features of the Internet Security, plus some extras including antivirus security for your Android mobile phones. There is an anti-theft tool built-in to the software, which can be used to trace a lost or stolen device, be it a Windows, iOS or Android device. Windows users also gain a One-click optimize tool which can securely delete your private data from your browsers, temporary files, monitor your start-up items, etc.

bitdefender

The Bitdefender Mobile Security & Antivirus Android app has a malicious website blocker which prevents bad websites in Chrome and the default Android browser. The app lock can be used to prevent unauthorized access to app, with a pin code. The privacy advisor scanner can be used to determine which permissions are used by each app, and the Account privacy option can be used to find if your email account has been hacked.

There is a BitDefender Family Pack, which can be used on unlimited number of Windows, Mac and Android devices.

Bullguard Internet Security and Bullguard Premium Protection

bullguard

The multi-device plans of both of these subscriptions offer the mobile security app as part of the package.

VIPRE Mobile Security Premium:

VIPRE Mobile Security

You can use the app to track a lost device, and to take a picture of the thief, and lock or remotely wipe the data on the phone. The premium version also allows you to backup your data on the cloud. Parents can monitor the activity of their children’s internet, call and text histories using the app.

Avira Antivirus Pro, Internet Security and Ultimate Protection Suite:

avira

The Mobile protection can be used for scanning devices for malware, finding a stolen or lost phone, and for remotely locking the device to prevent your data from being stolen.

Panda Mobile Security:

panda-mobile-security

The Panda mobile apps for iOS helps you track your lost or stolen iPhone. The Android app offers antivirus, device optimization features, in addition to an anti-theft tracking system similar to the iOS app.

COUPONS: WHY SHOPPERS ARE MISSING OUT ON 300+ BILLION SAVINGS

Based on Inmar’s report, 321 billion coupons were distributed in 2015, but only 2.5 billion were redeemed. In 2016, only 2.2 billion coupons were redeemed. That’s a redemption rate of less than 1 percent.

In fact, coupon redemption rates have been on a decline since 2011.

Image source: Inmar

So, why are shoppers missing out on 300+ billion coupons?

Just a moment… Before we analyze the reasons why, you should understand why this should concern marketers, although customers are the ones losing out.

Low Coupon Redemption Rates Means Poor ROI for Marketers

A study by Nielsen shows that consumer product companies don’t break even on two-thirds (67%) of trade promotions. That’s an incredible loss considering the yearly spend of $1 trillion on such promotions, which include offers, loyalty rewards and coupons.

Obviously, if coupon promotions don’t reach the intended audiences, marketers can’t expect good results from their trade promotions.

Why Coupon Redemption is Incredibly Low

Several blatantly obvious errors have contributed to the historically low coupon redemption rates – to the detriment of both consumers and marketers.

1.      Contrast Between Coupon Distribution Methods and Redemption Rates for Different Platforms

In 2015, 89.1% of coupons were distributed as free-standing inserts, yet free-standing inserts made up only 38.4% of the total coupon redemption. On the other hand, coupon distribution through instant redeemable/ IR cross ruff was only 0.9%, but it made up 20.9% of the total coupon redemption.

Even more surprising, free-standing inserts seemed to be the only underperforming coupon distribution method, in terms of redemption rates. And that’s despite it having almost 9/10 of the total distribution allocation.

Data source: Inmar

·         What Retailers Should Do

Retailers can learn a few lessons from the Fraunhofer Institute ‘s bold move to phase out MP3 despite it still being quite popular amongst consumers. That decision was made due to the current availability of more efficient audio codecs with advanced features, compared to the MP3 digital audio coding format.

Even Mark Zuckerberg and his team at Facebook took the bold step to implement News Feed, knowing how valuable it would be to their audience, despite users vehemently protesting against it. The team had seen how this new feature dramatically doubled engagement; hence, potentially more valuable to Facebook users – even if such users may not have realized it at first.

Similarly, retailers can make a radical change in coupon distribution.

Perhaps retailers focus on distributing coupons through free-standing inserts due to their popularity among consumers. However, considering the low redemption rates, this distribution method is proving less viable compared to other methods.

2.      Potential ROI of Different Coupon Distribution Methods

Even just by considering the overall marketing return on investment (ROI) of the various channels, you can clearly see why coupon redemption is so low.

Image source: The Nielsen Company

Although the above statistics from Nielsen was carried out as far back as 2009, it pretty much applies to this day. A relationship is evident when contrasted with coupon distribution methods and redemption rates.

COUPON DISTRIBUTION METHOD2015 COUPON DISTRIBUTION (percent)2015 COUPON REDEMPTION (percent)MARKETING CHANNELROI ($ profit for each $1 spent)
Free-Standing Insert89.138.4Newspapers0.24
Dual Electronic and Paper2.35.1Co-op program$1.74
Instant Redeemable/IR Cross Ruff0.920.9In-store programs$0.84
Electronic Checkout17.9Promotions$1.19
Direct Mail14.3PR$1.05 (short term), $0.85 (long term)
Shelf Pad0.35TV Advertising$0.94 (short term), $1.22 (long term)
Handout0.93.5Outdoor ads$0.34
Internet0.33.2On-line ads$2.18
Electronic Discount0.32.5
In-ad, Magazine On-page, Magazine Pop-up, Other3.99.3Magazines$1.12 (short term), $0.45 (long term)

The poor performance of free-standing inserts (FSI’s), which are typically placed in newspapers or magazines, may be related to the fact that newspapers possess the lowest ROI.

Instant redeemable coupons, which are on-pack coupons, probably benefit from the ROI of both in-store programs and promotions. Also, since online ads have a high ROI, internet coupons could potentially produce higher redemption rates if they had a greater share of coupon distribution.

·         Marketer Preaching Water but Dying of Thirst

Recently, President Donald Trumps’ meet-up with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman came under serious scrutiny from the ever-vigilant eyes of US citizens. Since President Trump had criticized former President Obama in the past for bowing to the Saudi leader, it was quite a spectacle to see Trump go one step further to curtsy.

It’s just as embarrassing to see that marketers aren’t making good deals on their promotions, yet such promotions are aimed at helping customers get good deals.

3.      Mismatch Between Coupon Distribution by Marketers and Coupon Discovery by Customers

Any smart marketer would target coupon distribution through the methods customers commonly discover such promotions. However, there seems to be a mismatch between common customer discovery methods and coupon distribution methods.

COUPON DISTRIBUTION METHOD2015 COUPON DISTRIBUTION (percent)TOP 5 PLACES WHERE SHOPPERS REGULARLY DISCOVER COUPONS
Free-Standing Insert89.143%Inserts from the Sunday newspaper
42%Found in store circular
Electronic Discount0.337%Loaded onto my retail store loyalty card/associated with my account number
Instant Redeemable/IR Cross Ruff0.936%Peeled off product package in the store
Internet0.331%Found on a coupon website

Data source: Inmar

At least 30 percent of shoppers discover coupons through each of the 5 top channels. However, less than 1 percent coupon distribution is allocated to either electronic discounts (related to retail store loyalty cards), instant redeemable coupons (coupons peeled off product packages), or internet (related to discovery through coupon websites).

4.      Changing Customer Habits

Apart from curbing their mistakes, marketers have to deal with changing customer habits. This can make it incredibly difficult for retailers to accurately target and distribute coupons to the right people.

A study by Millward Brown Digital shows that more than half of marketers experience a challenge in keeping up with consumers’ changing behaviors.

Source: Millward Brown Digital

Coupons were once largely targeted at customers with tight budgets. Now, even the well-off are couponing. RetailMeNot reveals that 73 percent of high earners took advantage of a promotion to buy something in 2015.

Such changes are also affecting coupon discovery by customers, with 18-24 year-olds more likely to learn about good deals from friends. This means the promotion strategies marketers use would only reach target recipients through third parties.

Such fluctuating customer habits make the job of retailers more complicated. However, the problem isn’t really changing customer habits, but the inflexible nature of marketing promotions.

·         Why the Problem is Marketers – Not Fluctuating Customer Habits

The way marketers have trouble understanding changing customer habits is much like how English speakers find the Japanese language quite complex. English is highly organized with strict structures on forming sentences, while Japanese is highly flexible. In fact, in Japanese, you can say “I love you” in as many as 248,026 different ways!

After many years in the industry, established marketers develop well-organized and clearly structured systems of executing promotions. Unfortunately, their well-organized, regimented and systematic methods aren’t in tune with the highly flexible, constantly changing habits of customers.

So, marketers are always trying to keep up with what clients are doing.

·         The Solution Starts With Eliminating Stereotypes

Fortunately, marketers can learn several useful lessons from the process Duolingo, a language-learning platform, used in helping English speakers learn Japanese effectively.

The Duolingo team realized that English students wouldn’t fully comprehend Japanese just by learning the Western alphabet representation of Japanese sounds, called romanji. Instead, they teach the basics of the actual Japanese writing system, which includes all Hiragana characters (approximately 50), all Katakana characters (50), and 88 basic Kanji (Chinese) characters.

How does this apply to marketers?

Well, even marketers have certain representations of their target clients, as seen in such terms as Millenials, Baby Boomers, Generation Z…

Generation NameApproximate Births StartApproximate Births End
Lost Generation/ Generation of 191418901915
Interbellum Generation19011913
Greatest Generation19101924
Silent Generation19251945
Baby Boomers19461964
Generation X (Baby Bust)19651979
Generation Y/ Millennials/ Gen Next19801995
Generation Z19962010
Gen Alpha20112025

Source: Career Planner

By putting millions of people in such generalizations, marketers can loose sight of the actual individuals those terms represent. In fact, some of the attributes associated to individuals in various generation groups have more to do with lack of exposure than their own preferences. For instance, with increased exposure, Baby Boomers are now more tech savvy, big on social media, and even hip and trendy.

Even worse, grouping people this way might give the impression that those within each group have much more in common than others from separate groups. That may be far from the truth in many areas.

It’s far more valuable to understand the underlying reasons why different groups display certain characteristics – not just defining them based on superficial attributes. Such underlying influences determine behavior changes.

5.      Difference Between Coupon Distribution and Redemption Per Product Category

While retailers offer more coupons for non-food items, consumers redeem more coupons for food items.

COUPON DISTRIBUTION 2015COUPON REDEMPTION 2015
Food37.10%62.50%
Non-Food62.90%37.50%

Source: Inmar

Here the solution seems pretty obvious: offer more food coupons and less non-food coupons.

6.      Challenge of Measuring ROI

The Getting Digital Right study by Millward Brown Digital, shows how challenging it is to track ROI for different marketing channels. This is based on a survey of 300+ senior executives in advertising, agencies, and media.

Image source: Millward Brown Digital

From the report, email ROI stands out as the easiest to track, and webinar ROI being the least. Traditional media ROI is barely easy to track, yet making up a significant portion of coupon distribution.

With higher ability to track ROI, it’s easier to refine promotions that better suit target customer needs and achieve higher redemption rates.

·         Insufficient Training of Marketers

A study by The Fournaise Marketing Group revealed that 90 percent of marketers have no training in calculating return on investment (ROI) and marketing performance. Yet these are professionals with marketing diplomas/ degrees.

Furthermore, more than half of marketers have no specific training in marketing. They instead possess degrees or diplomas in other field like Economics, Journalism or Sociology.

No wonder marketers have a hard time tracking marketing ROI.

·         Complicating Things That Could Be Simple

An incredibly hilarious article by BuzzFeed shows how women experience issues regarding their private parts: the first time seeing a speculum during Pap smear, hearing horror stories about toxic shock syndrome (TSS), getting urinary tract infections (UTIs), “spotting”… They often get all worked up and overanalyze normal biological occurrences, yet the issue could be a simple thing as using the wrong soap.

In the same way, marketers who are apprehensive and unsure about measuring ROI on promotions could end up complicating simple processes. This applies when marketers shift focus from the key parameter of sales, and instead get distracted by multiple extras like social media likes, shares and going viral.

Worse still, they run the risk of also complicating things for potential customers.

7.      Coupon Design

How coupon offers are presented can make a significant difference in redemption rates.

In 2008, an outdoor gear company received a 72 percent higher conversion rate from $50 off coupons compared to 15% off coupons. This was due to “50” being a greater number than “15”, giving the perception of greater savings, despite both being of similar value.

Several other coupon design factors affect redemption rates:

NUMBER OF SHOPPERSBARRIERS TO COUPON USAGE
50%Have to buy multiple items
62%Coupons expire
47%Too many rules/ exclusions

Source: Inmar

To counter such barriers to coupon usage, RetailMeNot provides a useful guide on effective promotion design:

GOODBETTERBEST
Free gift with $X Purchase$ or % Off One Item$ or % Off Purchase Sitewide/ Storewide
Cash Back Rebates$ or % Off for CardholdersAdd Free Shipping
Up to X% Off ClearanceUp to X% Off Holiday Doorbusters

·         Can Coupons Get a Facelift?

Why should coupons always be 5%/ 10%/ 50% off or $0.50/ $2/ $20 off? Or any of the established forms of coupon variations like mobile, free-standing inserts…. Why does it have to stop at that? Why aren’t there more variations?

To overcome the seeming apathy by customers, coupon design may need something as out-of-the-ordinary as the Hollywood blockbuster-style trailer created by Eugene Romanovsky to sell his disheveled old car. Instead of just settling for a boring vehicle trading website , the Latvian portrays his 1996 Suzuki Vitara being chased by raptors through Jurassic Park, going under water, speeding through the desert in Mad Max: Fury Road, and even flying right to the moon. So far, the video has more than 5 million views.

What if there was a new eye-catching variation of coupon design every year?

8.      Mismatch Between Promotions and Product Features

A product has to actually be worth buying for people to find your promotion valuable. Hence, marketers may be doing their jobs perfectly, but are being let down by manufacturers.

On the other hand, marketers may have forgotten that the value of a product largely depends on the audience. Hence, targeting the right customers is crucial. For instance, health conscious customers wouldn’t care if you offer free fast food. Since 92% of restaurant meals contain too many calories, that’s already a turn-off to health conscious customers – even before you start any promotion.

A study by The Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) revealed that behaviorally-targeted advertising produced 2.68 times as much revenue as non-targeted advertising.

·         Making One Product Attractive to Different Customer Groups

Delivering customized communication to different customer segments is crucial to marketing one product to diverse audiences.

To understand how this works, consider what makes the half-million-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park the most-visited of all 59 US national parks.


Image source: Pixabay

Any one of multiple reasons could have influenced each of the record 11.3 million people to visit the park in 2016: free admission, less than a day’s drive from any part of eastern USA, natural beauty, history, multiple indigenous plants and trees (includes pitch pine, chestnut oak, and mockernut hickory), support for nature, waterfalls and cascades, hiking trails, varied animal species (includes 1,500 black bears  and 30 salamander species) and campgrounds.

In the same way, marketing campaigns would be more effective if combined with the most attractive message for specific customers. Some customers may not care about a 10% discount unless they could easily order the product online. Others may be interested in supporting small businesses – not large corporations. Following popular trends may be more important for particular shoppers.

In other words, a simple discount code may not be sufficient to attract customers – it has to be combined with a convincing message.

How to Make the Best of the Current Situation

Based on all these findings, both customers and marketers can play a role in taking full advantage of more than just 1 percent of the hundreds of billions of coupons distributed yearly.

For marketers, one key decision they have to make is a choice between: focusing on a single channel that performs well and eliminating poorly performing ones, or running more effective multi-channel promotions. Each option has its own pros and cons.

Single Channel PromotionMulti-Channel Promotion
AdvantagesDisadvantagesAdvantagesDisadvantages
Easier to handle for small marketing teamsMissed opportunities if target customers are also using other channels86% of consumers shop on at least 2 channels51% of marketers don’t have the technological capabilities to react to new channels, trends, devices, or competitors
Easier to dominate the market within one channelReach limited to the channel usedOnline platforms influence offline sales and vice versaOnly 14% of organizations currently run fully coordinated multi-channel marketing campaigns
preferred option for marketing teams with limited budgetsInability to track customer behavior beyond one channelMore effective tracking of the five stages of customers’ buying cycleOnly 37% of marketers have online-and-offline integration systems

On the customers’ part, it’s just a case of missed opportunities to make phenomenal savings. With more decisive and calculated shopping habits, shoppers like Jordon Cox have made such incredible savings as getting £600 worth of products for only 4p.