by Karlene Lukovitz, Thursday, Jul 31, 2008 7:00 AM ET
The number of American adults using online coupons rose by 39% to 36 million between 2005 and 2008, according to a new survey conducted by Simmons/Experian Research and Coupons, Inc.
Online users account for nearly one-quarter (24%) of the total 148 million consumers who use coupons, compared to 22% market penetration as of last year.
Meanwhile, newspaper coupon users declined from 96 million in 2005 to 92 million last year.
Overall coupon usage has declined by 1 million since 2005, the survey found.
The shift toward greater online coupon usage is not surprising--given that online penetration among the U.S. adult population jumped from 46% in 2000 to 71% last year, while newspaper penetration declined from 65% to 55%, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project and the Newspaper Association of America.
Demographically, 29% of online coupon users and 23% of newspaper coupon users are under age 35. (Nearly half of online coupon users are between the ages of 22 and 44.) More online users have household incomes over $60,000 (61%, versus 57% of newspaper coupon users). In addition, 36% of online users, versus 29% of newspaper users, have children under age 18.
* 88% of coupon users overall say that they use coupons to save money on the brands they usually buy, 47% say they use them to "stock up" on brands they usually buy, 47% use them to try new products, 41% use them to try a brand that's "usually too expensive" for them, and 29% use them to buy more of a product than they would normally buy.
* Most users find coupons in multiple channels: 79% on the Net, 74% in newspapers, 68% store coupons, 66% instant redeemable, 64% free-standing inserts, 61% store circulars, 60% on-pack, 51% electronic checkout, and 48% direct mail, with descending percentages for sources such as in-pack, shelf dispensers, magazines and handouts.
* 43% access printable online coupons at general savings (coupon-oriented) sites, 32% on manufacturers' promotional sites, 31% through manufacturers' brand sites, and 31% through retailer sites.
* Half (51%) of online coupon users go to a manufacturer's or retailer site or subscribe to a company's enewsletter in order to find coupons, while 46% do so to find deals and promotions. About 27% are looking for recipes, 23% are seeking information about product features/benefits, 21% are looking for new ideas, 14% want product nutritional or health information, and 7% do so for "fun" or to play an online game.
* Nearly three-quarters (74%) of online coupon users say they use coupons for frozen foods. Other most-used coupon categories include refrigerated foods (71%), dry grocery (67%), household goods (65%), personal care (58%), beverages (57%), healthcare products (54%), non-fast food restaurants (49%), and fast-food restaurants (47%).
* Even in the categories where online coupons are most heavily used, significant numbers of consumers who do not currently use coupons in these categories indicate that they would like to do so. "Enormous couponing upside still exists for most product categories," note the researchers.
* More than 80% of online coupon users research products or services online before making an offline purchase. Most (59%) go directly to a manufacturer's site, and 54% use a search engine to go to a manufacturer's site.
* 60% of online coupon users consider the Net a "very" or "extremely" important source for finding product information, and 53% consider it very or extremely important for shopping for non-food items.
* 58% of online coupon users agree that products and manufacturers that offer online coupons are more likely to come up with products and services that they will use and enjoy, and about the same number believe that such companies "care about keeping them as customers."
* 77% say that the value of a coupon affects their willingness to provide personal information. More than 70% say they would provide their email addresses and first and last names, and answer survey questions, in return for a $2 coupon.
* Seventy-three percent say they are more likely to open an email if a coupon is offered, and 64% are more likely to click on an ad banner or search listing if they know that a coupon is offered.
The study, the "2008 Printable Coupon Consumer Pulse," was conducted in March and based on compiled national consumer research from Simmons and a custom survey of more than 2,000 printable coupon users. Coupons, Inc. owns the Coupons.com printable coupons site. The full report is downloadable at couponsinc.com.