Inmar coupon trends from 2012: Lower values, greater purchase requirements

Earlier this week I took part in a conference reviewing top coupon trends for 2012, which was presented by Inmar. Inmar is one of largest coupon marketing companies in the nation -- they deal with coupon, promotion, and rebate consulting and management for numerous retailers and manufacturers.

The conference analyzed how shoppers redeemed coupons over the past year, noting that "for promotions professionals and digital and retail marketers, there were several disruptive, significant events that measurably impacted the industry."

What were some of them?

  • In 2012, 310 billion coupons were distributed. 3 billion were redeemed - less than one percent of all coupons issued were used by consumers.
  • Of the coupons redeemed, 2 billion were for food, and 1 billion were for non-food items.
  • Redemption is down .5 billion over 2011.
  • Of all coupons redeemed by consumers, 43.9% of them came from the inserts. 8% were ecoupons, with 4.6% print-at-home. 18.1% of coupons redeemed were instant redeemable, or what we think of as "peelies!" That's a big increase in shoppers using coupons that are right in front of them in the store.

Inmar noted that 75% of all shoppers use coupons in some form or another. They also noted that the drop in redemption was likely influenced by the following factors (which we've all noticed!)

  • Lower face values
  • Shorter expiration periods
  • Greater purchase requirements (coupons that require you to buy multiple items)

Devora Rogers of Inmar led the conference. There were numerous retailers and manufacturers in attendance, and Devora explained that even though manufacturer coupon redemption is down 14.3% over last year, their 1000-person study of shoppers revealed that shoppers state they're using more coupons than ever before. One possible reason for this is the increase in store coupon usage, both paper and ecoupons, which are not tracked among manufacturer coupon redemptions.

Additional interesting statistics from the conference:

  • 54% of shoppers increased their coupon usage because their financial situation changed
  • 37% of people surveyed (what Inmar notes as a "radical fringe") wishes all coupons were digital. These shoppers felt entitled to the same discounts other people put in time and effort to obtain by cutting paper coupons and doing research and "homework" ahead of their trips.
  • 40% of men are the primary grocery shopper in the household. (This is something I noted a long time ago, simply by observing the demographics of people attending my coupon workshops!) Inmar reminded marketers that the long-held trend of focusing promotions on "Moms" is outdated.

Devora urged manufacturers and retailers to understand that "Coupons are a powerful connection to what drives shoppers and what they're thinking," and to "Think of a coupon as a piece of news," which shoppers are eager to share with their friends and families. "Saving money is a kind of 'news,' and it's news that shoppers don't get tired of." (So true!)

In reviewing the survey data, Devora said "Marketers are doing the opposite of what shoppers are looking for," noting that there is a notable disconnect and gap between what marketers are doing and what shoppers want. She noted that the shorter expiration dates, increased purchase requirements and lower values are unpopular with shoppers, and that many shoppers surveyed felt they simply "didn't have enough time" to redeem short-dated coupons.

In closing, Devora asked "Marketers, is this really the time to be pulling back offers? Pulling back is a strategy we [at Inmar] would be wary of."

Here are some infographics from the conference:

Images courtesy of Inmar Analytics 2012 Coupon Trends - Insights and Analysis

I find the digital comment to

I find the digital comment to be interesting - while that might work with store and Catalina coupons, how on earth would you manage that with most manufacturers coupons? All I can think of is adding even more key fobs; for redplum, smartsource, P&G, but then you'd see a complete disappearance of coupons from smaller manufacturers.

It's already being done

If you remember, when P&G first rolled out their ecoupons, you could load them to the Dominick's (and Safeway) cards at You CAN still do this, but those same ecoupons are already now shown under the Coupon Center of Just For U, so you don't have to visit another site to load them. Ditto Meijer's MPerks - you can load ecoupons for P&G products right from Mperks too. And both are electronic manufacturer coupons.

if I recall, though, once you

if I recall, though, once you have loaded a manufacturer's coupon onto a card, it has to be used at that chain; you cannot send it out to all of your cards. I guess that might make things a little handier for people who do not *coupon* as such (dear god I wish there was a better verb for that! ;-) ), but I shop at a few different places (I am very lucky; though I am dependent on public transit, there is a Stop and Shop right by the bus stop, a Shaw's Market, Market Basket, Target and Whole Foods on that bus line, less than 12 minutes to any of them. I love the 87 bus). Sending coupons is convenient, but I like the flexibility that having a coupon gives me when it comes to my options for shopping.

I would actually be perfectly happy with cards for Catalina, RedPlum, SmartSource and P&G Brandsaver,, etc. In theory. But I suspect that most of the people who answered that question just assumed that they would just automatically have All The Coupons, and whenever one applies to whatever they were going to buy anyway, it would get taken off. That seems like it wouldn't work out for either coupon clippers or the manufacturers.

I have seen it on here too...

I have seen it on here too... far fewer deals, and then there are the situations like last month's big deal on stayfree where they were BOGO with a BOGO sale at CVS - a sale many of us look forward to. But many of us could not buy the product because the stores did not stock up and the warehouses were empty.. Sales like that seem to be more and more poorly stocked and poorly planned. Retailers and manufacturers work together to put out promotions like that and it will continue to backfire on them until they properly plan and prepare for the sale. I think is why so many of us couponers rarely shop at Walgreens these days. Even if they HAVE a good sale, too many location run out of the promo items on the first day and never get more stock in.

You are right about Stayfree-

You are right about Stayfree- I never got any before the Qs expired, and I do have rainchecks, but the store never got any in.

Did you have them note the coupons on the raincheck?

I always ask them to either staple the coupons TO the raincheck, or note on it that they will accept the coupons past the expiration date if they don't get more of the product in. My CVS has been really good about doing this.

many will not....

accept past exp. date. It is up to the manager of each CVS. You are lucky yours will do it.

Does this mean my CVS will

Does this mean my CVS will still take the BOGO if they have the stayfree in stock now? or would they have had to note that on the raincheck when they wrote it? Actually, I don't think my nearest CVS has them back in stock just yet.


I've never tried it without putting the coupons ON the raincheck, either by having the cashier staple them to it or by having them WRITE a note on the raincheck about the coupons expiring. This isn't in their policy - they've done it as a courtesy though.

Do other stores honor expired coupons in this situation?

Jill -- do you know if other stores besides CVS are willing to accept coupons past their expiration date in the case where the sale item doesn't come back in stock before the coupon expires? For example, this year I bought extra papers to take advantage of the $2.15 Finish dishwasher coupon. I tried several times to use them during the $2.59 sale at Meijer. Of course the stock of Finish tabs was gone when I went there. I got rainchecks but each time I went to Meijer they were out again. I was only able to buy 2 of the 4 boxes I had coupons for before coupons expired. I didn't think about asking them if they were willing to accept the coupons for as long as the raincheck was in force.

In my experience Meijer will

In my experience Meijer will too, just ask. They did for me once. But this time I didn't make it there in time before my raincheck expired, and now both my Qs and my RC are expired.


In my experience, Jewel will too IF you have them note that on the raincheck and staple the coupons to it. You can get another 30 days (the max they'll accept a coupon after the sale date) and hopefully in that time, your item comes back in.

With a hot sale like the dishtabs, remember price-matching at Walmart and Target too. I know several people said they matched it at both of those stores to take advantage of the deal too.


I really don't like the coupons that are for 2 DIFFERENT items. Such as buy these chips get $1.00 off this soda. It may be a product I don't like or want (cutting pop out of our diets). So instead I look for the best deal on chips even if it means a different brand of chips.

Really hoping we see an increase in coupon values. I have not been cutting my coupons as much lately. I have been working 6 day work weeks. And honestly even when I could be saving more money with the coupons the time it takes to clip them just isn't worth it most of the time especially when they are for $0.25 or $0.50 coupons. I would rather spend the time with my kids since I don't have as much free time.

I agree!

That's an EXCELLENT point. Way back in 2011 I had blogged about what was then a "new" phenomenon - two unrelated products on a coupon:

Now we do see more and more coupons for two semi-unrelated things. I just picked up this tearpad coupon last week because I thought it was interesting:

I thought it was an interesting coupon simply because I'd NEVER use it. I buy Bumble Bee tuna, but I don't buy Special K. Making me buy both of them together is a "lose" from a marketing standpoint.

that's the Special K

that's the Special K crackers, though, not the cereal. it does sort of make sense to tie those items together, as crackers are often used for serving tuna salad on.

I suppose

But while we eat tuna, we never make tuna salad and serve it on crackers. For the way I shop, it's really a limiting kind of offer.

I'd say it's more limiting

I'd say it's more limiting because it's $1 off three, so too high to double, when around here (Boston) those Bumble Bee packs are $1.69, and the Special K crackers are $3.79 when they are not on sale, and I can't ever see spending over $7 to get a whole dollar off ;-)