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The Coupon Lady: A look at couponing in 2011

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NCH Marketing Solu­tions, a Valassis corporation, released its annual Coupon Facts Report for 2011 two weeks ago.

Valassis is the company behind Red Plum, one of the largest printers of coupon inserts. Since couponing is my profession, I seek out marketing and statistical data to keep me informed on spending trends of other couponers and how the market is responding to the increase of couponers seen in the last few years.

NCH opens its news release by saying, “In total, $470 billion of coupon value was offered by consumer package goods (CPG) marketers to U.S. consumers last year, a 26 percent increase over the pre-recession period of 2007. Value-conscious shoppers responded by redeeming $4.6 billion in savings, an increase of 12.2 percent over the year prior, and 58.6 percent higher than five years ago. During 2011, 3.5 billion coupons were redeemed, up 6.1 percent from 2010, and 34.6 percent since 2007.”

Before the recession hit in 2007, coupon use had declined steadily for several years. In 2007, only $2.9 billion in coupons were redeemed out of the $373 billion in offers for that year. The recession changed all that, and coupon use has grown year after year since 2007.

The study also shows that manufacturers offered consumers fewer coupons in 2011 than in 2010. The study shows that in 2010, $511 billion in coupons were offered to the consumer, while only $470 billion in coupons were offered in 2011. That’s a decrease of $41 billion.

Using basic economics terms, in the couponing world we have seen demand for coupons rise steadily since 2007. Until last year, manufacturers were increasing supply to keep up. In 2011, the demand grew while supply declined. This creates a sense of scarcity that couponers had not felt before.

The study tells us that the decline in coupon distribution in 2011 was largely the result of a decline in grocery coupons. In 2010, 62 percent of coupons were for grocery items and 38 percent were for health and beauty care items, while in 2011, the numbers were 58.7 percent and 41.3 percent, respectively. The declines are separated into categories. Dry groceries declined 10.7 percent, household goods and general merchandise declined 13.4 percent, refrigerated foods fell 15.2 percent, frozen foods declined 20.8 percent, beverages declined 0.4 percent and grocery cross-category declined 21.4 percent

Even though there were fewer coupons released last year, the average value of a coupon remained the same at $1.54. The average face value of a redeemed coupon jumped from $1.25 to $1.32. The average expiration date of a coupon shortened from 10.4 weeks in 2010 to 9.9 weeks in 2011. There was a 2 percent increase in coupons that required the purchase of more than one item.

Where are the coupons coming from? Freestanding inserts, such as P&G, Red Plum, General Mills, Pepsi and Smart Source account for 89.4 percent of media coupon distribution.

All other media accounts for the remaining 10.6 percent, includes magazines (1.5 percent), peelies (1.1 percent), direct mail (2.3 percent), handout/in-store (4.2 percent) and miscellaneous (less than 2 percent).

What this means is that coupon inserts such as the ones found in The Augusta Chronicle remain the largest source for locating coupons.

I was interested to discover that coupon use has dramatically increased in drugstores and mass merchandisers over the last year and declined slightly in grocery stores and military commissaries. The top 10 retailers that redeemed coupons are Walmart, Kroger, Walgreens, Target, Publix, DeCA (Commissary), Ahold, Supervalu, Meijer and CVS.

What this all means is that coupons are still very big news. I believe coupons will continue to be popular among consumers in 2012.

Another couponing site, www.ilovecouponmonth.com, reported that “Every hour spent couponing in 2011 is worth an estimated $100.”

If you want to learn how to coupon in just a few hours a week, come to one of my classes and start earning that payday.

FREE COUPON CLASS

Carol Gunter will hold a free coupon class for beginners from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, at The Augusta Chronicle News Building, 725 Broad St. Seating is limited; to reserve your spot, log onto smartshopper224.eventbrite.com. Contact her at augustacouponlady@yahoo.com.

TOPS IN 2011

The top 10 categories of most-redeemed coupons for 2011:

1. Hair care

2. Eye care products and solutions

3. Candy and gum

4. Cosmetics

5. Butter and margarine

6. Sanitary protection

7. First aid

8. Vitamins and supplements

9. Shaving needs

10. Dried fruit

Source: NCH Marketing Solutions’ Coupon Facts Report for 2011


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