Paper vouchers go virtual
US consumers show no signs of losing their affection for money off vouchers, but a trend that must be massively worrying to the already challenged weekend newspapers is for those cut out paper vouchers to go virtual.
Supermarket retailers Tom Thumb and Randalls, both operated by Safeway, are the latest merchants to join the Cellfire mobile coupon network which gives them access to 21 online coupons from CPG companies including General Mills, Unilever and Kimberly-Clark. The vouchers can be accessed both with a mobile phone and by computer through the internet.
The system works by allowing the customer to browse the coupons on offer, and if they see one they want, they can select it to be downloaded to their loyalty card. The benefit, in terms of money off, is then discounted automatically at the checkout.
According to US title Supermarket News, the system has now moved on even further, with members of the chains’ loyalty club programs now able to have coupons automatically downloaded on their loyalty cards.
Two recent studies showed very positive data for virtual vouchers. Coupons, Inc, and Simmons Market Research reported that the number of Americans using online coupons grew from 26 million to 36 million from 2005 to 2008. Almost half of these users are aged 22-44. Another by Scarborough Research showed that internet coupon use increased 83% from 2005 to 2008 with 11% of U.S. households were using them).