Blog post

Consumers Turn to Digital Couponing to Combat Inflation

By Kassi Socha | August 12, 2022 | 0 Comments


Even if consumers spend the same amount as they did in 2021, rising average selling prices (ASP) means consumers are purchasing less, or walking away with less items for the same amount of spend. 

Gartner has been monitoring and surveying consumers regularly to keep a pulse on how consumers are changing their shopping habits to adapt to inflation. One trend we’ve recently observed is the return of couponing. 

While the physical act of sitting at the kitchen table and cutting out coupons from the latest newspaper may have disappeared, the rise and utilization of digital price comparison tools and digital coupon tracking has replaced it. Now more than ever, consumers are turning to such tools to combat inflation. 

We recently surveyed and asked the Gartner Consumer Community, “How has inflation impacted how you shop for things you need regularly (such as food, groceries, household products or personal care items)?”. Across generations, more than 30% of consumers are utilizing digital price comparison and coupon tracking tools to combat inflation. We found that younger generations are more likely to increase their usage of digital tools compared to older generations (see below figure). In fact, almost 50% of Gen Z & Millennials are utilizing digital tools to track coupons. Couponing is not out of style.

Younger generations more likely to increase their usage of digital tools to combat inflation

Digital marketers need to consider how to address shifting consumer behavior related to inflation through reinvestment and focus into discounting. Associated tools should be highly reconsidered. Embracing digital tools related to price savings cannot be ignored. 

Dedicated Digital Coupon Tracking Tools

Third party digital coupon tracking tools often fall into a brand’s affiliate marketing strategy. Brands can partner with these tools through an affiliate network, paying a percentage commission on every sale driven. Most tools also offer content marketing sponsorships opportunities for features in their weekly newsletter, homepage, or app for added visibility and traffic driving.

While marketers may worry that offering a discount through these partners may reward a customer who already plans to purchase, the reality is these tools are being highly utilized by target consumers. Consumers expect a discount and are seeking one to combat the impact of inflation. Participating will aide the initial conversion which could mean the difference of acquiring the target customer or not.  Brands can take steps to limit the total amount of cash back a customer receive or number of coupon uses to ensure a customer doesn’t associate couponing with the brand long term.

  1. Rakuten (formerly eBates) offers cash back on purchases if consumers begin their shopping journey through one of their platforms (web, app, browser extension). They often feature percentage bonuses and exclusive offers in their app to encourage mobile browsing and shopping. Occasionally, they offer in-store discounts and offers.
  2. Paypal Honey promotes a web browser extension that alerts consumers about potential savings while they’re shopping. Users automatically get cash back for their purchases if they activate the extension and can browse additional exclusive offers.
  3. RetailMeNot offers coupons for thousands of brands that can be accessed for digital redemption, as well as in-store physical redemption. They’re often the first search result on google when searching for a specific brand and coupon.

Integrated Digital Coupon Tools & Features

Many payment, credit card and banking platforms have launched targeted offers. They utilize a consumer’s first party spending data to surface relevant offers related to their past spending behavior. When consumers login to their associated accounts, they’re presented with offers and can opt in to participate.

  1. Paypal serves up brand offers customers can save and opt into within their app and website. If a user is signed into their account on the web, occasionally Paypal offers will pop up on partner sites they’re browsing. Brands can set the offer, timeline and target volume of redemptions they want to achieve when setting up offers. Paypal then determines who is a relevant target based on past spending.
  2. Chase has created a section of their website and app to showcase brand offers to credit card members. Customers can opt in and link limited time spend offers to their credit card. They’re automatically reimbursed for the offer instead of having to manually redeem it. 

Brand Owned Digital Tools & Features

Best in class brands partner with digital tools to offer discounts but also build them into their owned platforms. Many surface coupons and offers exclusively to rewards or loyalty members as an added benefit or perk to the program. 

  1. Target built a category within their app for Circle rewards members to save relevant deals that they can unlock while they shop digitally or scan at the register while checking out in-store. Target uses past purchase history and first party data to tailor featured offers. For example, if a customer regularly purchases baby items, they will see more baby product related deals.
  2. Michaels allows rewards members to clip coupons within their app and save them in a mobile wallet for redemption in-store or online. Members must sign in to access this feature. Michael’s has been known for great physical coupons so translating the offering into digital while acquiring customers as rewards members is strategic for their customer data efforts.

A few related Gartner pieces to read:

Set up some time with a Gartner expert here.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

Comments are closed