Paper Coupons Are Alive and Well
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Despite the popularity of mobile coupons and discount apps, consumers are slow to give up their paper coupons.

eMarketer estimates that 52% of adults will use digital coupons in 2017, up from 51% in 2016 and 48% in 2015. Growth is expected to continue through the forecast period (2017-2021), although that growth will gradually slow from 3.8% in 2017 to 2.1% in 2021.

Consumers clearly love the convenience of digital coupons, particularly mobile ones (eMarketer estimates that, of digital coupons users, 93% are using mobile versions), but slow growth points to deeper challenges that paper doesn't seem to have.

Why do consumers love paper coupons? According to eMarketer:

  • They love the familiarity.
  • They like finding all of their coupons in a single place (circulars) rather than having to wait for them to show upon on their phones or go hunting for them when they want them.

Take one retail category where coupon use is heavy — grocery. A February 2017 survey by Market Track found that when it comes to deals on grocery items, 59% of adult consumers search print circulars compared to only 32% using digital coupons, 23% using the circular’s digital version, and 12% downloading coupons from the retailer’s site.

Although growth in digital coupons may be slow, it is growing. By 2021, 55% of the U.S. consumer population is expected to be using digital coupons.

However, while consumers may not be ready to switch from paper yet, don’t be exclusive, either. Not every consumer wants to use coupons the same way, and paper and digital coupons will continue to share the stage for some time to come. Continue to give consumers a choice!

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