Will couponing continue to be a mainstay of retailing?
Bernice Hurst grew up in New York City but has lived in England for the past forty years. Her return trips — now a mixture of business and pleasure — often trigger trains of thought on the way things have (and haven’t) changed in American retailing. A recent trip inspired her to harvest some of those observations into a mini-series.
First stop: Southern California where the local newspaper, San Diego Union-Tribune, clearly knows its audience, both advertisers and readers. Coupon shopping is one of the things that doesn’t seem to have changed.
Supplements cover all the bases — newspaper, retailers and shoppers all win. The latter get bonus discounts for cutting ads from the paper itself. The newspaper wins whether they do or don’t. Shoppers win if they do; retailers if they don’t.
Young and old are catered for in this area of ever-expanding retirement communities whose residents still shop, even if differently from their younger neighbors (and selves). So where do they go, how do they get there (and home with their purchases), and what do they buy? Maybe TVs (coming later in this mini-series), not usually large-quantity food or household goods purchases, but still some of each plus clothes and gifts for families, perhaps. Especially HBC and pharmaceuticals. It all gives retailers a pretty reasonable playing field.
As for transport, gone are the days of wheeling shopping carts through the neighborhood. Nowadays you can wheel them through a mall but still have to drive to get there and back. Seniors may rely on buses to and from their residence. Online shopping and coupon apps may be the default option for some, but there are times when technology just doesn’t cut it.
Back to the retailers. Do they know all this and, if not, why not? If they do, what do they do about it? Coupons again. Seniors who have lived most of their lives bargain hunting aren’t likely to change their ways late in life, even if it’s a game as much as a necessity. Younger people on limited incomes often have no choice.
Multigenerational households, too, can find bargain shopping a sensible solution to diverse needs. In some, aging parents have moved in with children and grandchildren to be looked after. In others, parents host children and grandchildren struggling to support themselves. Either way, retailers benefit by advertising products across the spectrum.
Bargain shopping takes time, energy and concentration but can pay off. The ways retailers address this and tailor by target is what makes research and observation fun and challenging. It’s all about enticement. Inducement to spend — or separating shoppers and their wallets, as one of our colleagues frequently reminds us. However you look at it, though, it still seems part of the American way of life.
- Coupon use still prevalent among American consumers – Linkable Networks
- Americans proudly use coupons more than shoppers in Great Britain, India and China among others – RetailMeNot
Are traditional coupons still better traffic drivers than margin killers for retailers? Do you see coupons still being prominent traffic drivers for Millennials and Generation Z? If so, what approach will work best?