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How digital coupons influence shopping behavior

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This summer, 54 percent of online back-to-school shoppers cited coupons as the leading factor that influenced them to shop at a particular store. The latest Shop.org Snapshot report “Consumer Use of Digital Coupons” examines the new frontier in coupons: digital and mobile.

eMarketer projects that about half of U.S. Internet users will have redeemed a digital coupon by the end of this year. The exciting news: 48 percent of those are mobile coupon users, up from 39 percent last year, and more growth is ahead.  As retailers head into the holiday season, it’s important to know how consumers are planning to find and redeem coupons this year. Here’s what Prosper Insights and Analytics found in their research:

  • Redeeming from email and the web is mainstream. Consumers say they’re almost as likely to print a coupon from an email (64 percent) or a web site (57 percent) as from an ad insert (74 percent) or sources such as a magazine or newspaper (63 percent). Digging deeper, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of women print coupons from a web site.
  • Coupons trigger online searches. Second only to face-to-face communication, two out of five women have started an online search because of a coupon.
  • Online coupons influence brand product choices. On a scale of one to five, consumers rated the influence of online coupons a 3.4. This is ahead of shelf coupons (3.3), coupons on register tape (2.8) and coupons on mobile devices (2.3). However, women and millennials rate both online coupons and mobile coupons higher than this average. But the amount of influence varies by category, with consumers saying coupons play a bigger role with apparel purchases, for example, than electronics.

In short, retailers need to explore whether and how digital coupons make sense for their customers, product and category.

Retailers are strategically using digital coupons to achieve a variety of goals beyond the immediate sale. For example, Ace Hardware recently concluded a in Northern California that encouraged in-store shoppers to text them for a coupon. This test increased average basket size in the store and grew the company’s opt-in text-messaging list. Coupons can be a key element in campaigns to re-engage customers, avoid abandonment on the checkout page and rescue abandoned carts.

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