According to the experts, despite routinely emerging technology, coupon clipping is here to stay. In fact, there are firms that will clip your coupons, coupon clipping groups, and a movement around extreme coupon clipping.

Joe Trimble, promotions marketing manager for General Mills tells Bloomberg Business that, “Print is still an effective and efficient way to reach customers.” Mr. Trimble is head of the coupon group at General Mills, which issues tens of millions of coupons on a weekly basis, making General Mills the leader in printed coupons.

Bloomberg Business points out that, not only has the paper coupon lasted through the digital age, the paper coupon is doing better than ever. In the first half of last year, some 171 billion coupons were distributed by consumer packaged goods firms. Of these, most—92.5 percent—may be found in so-called “free-standing Insert” booklets which are typically found in the Sunday newspaper, data from NCH Marketing Services, a coupon audit and settlement company, indicates. Digital coupons, the type that are downloaded to smartphones, scanned at the point of sale, or loaded onto customer loyalty cards, are gaining some speed, but do not yet account for 1 percent of consumer packaged goods coupons.

Although just under 1 percent of paper coupons included in inserts are redeemed, there remain some persuasive reasons to keep paper coupons going—despite the paper used. For example, manufacturers pay insert publishers a portion of one penny for distribution of every coupon. Meanwhile, it costs somewhere between 5 and 10 cents to download one digital coupon, Curtis Tingle, chief marketing officer at marketing services company Valassis, which owns NCH and the RedPlum coupon booklet, tells Bloomberg Business.

Tingle points out that paper coupons “are efficient. They are broad-scale—you can reach tens of millions of households in any given day in the country.” What’s more, marketers receive page space for promotional pieces, including recipes, which are not generally seen when a digital coupon is displayed, typically due to space constraints, Bloomberg Business reports.

Not every retailer possesses the hardware necessary to scan digital coupons from smartphone devices. And, based on Valassis survey data, consumers—and, in large part, millennial consumers—just prefer paper-based discounts. Consumers who use digital coupons also do not necessary eschew their paper counterparts. “For consumers, it’s a ritual behavior,” Tingle says. The behavior increases during life changes, most especially when a baby is born, and family budgets are tightened, even consumers who previously used digital seek paper inserts for coupon deals during times of cost-cutting and saving.

It is true that the newspaper reading demographic is aging. Today, the median age of the adult mobile news user is 17 years younger than today’s print reader, according to the latest information available, 2012 data from the Newspaper Association of America, writes Bloomberg Business. “As demographics shift, and more supermarket retailers incorporate new digital marketing technology, I would expect to see this continue to gradually migrate to more digital,” Brian Numainville, principal at researcher Retail Feedback Group, tells Bloomberg Business. But, for today, at least, print coupons are not going anywhere.


Wong, Venessa. Clipping Forever: Why the Humble Coupon Isn’t Going Away; Bloomberg Business; November 07, 2014.