Editorial

Couponing is Best Served Through Print Newspapers

Thursday, November 19, 2015

It was another good week for newspaper. In addition to good quarterly earnings reports, the industry benefitted from findings released by CreditCards.com tied to a survey they conducted in August. It turns out that most people (63%) still prefer paper coupons over those served via phone or online through special codes.

The report suggests that security issues are the main obstacle consumers have in using digital alternatives. In fact, most would prefer that discounts be applied automatically when they swipe their card. That form of couponing may ultimately resolve security concerns, but until more cards and retailers work toward making this utility the operational standard, good old paper seems to suit the general public just fine.

Over the last two years a number of newspaper industry initiatives have been spearheaded to demonstrate the efficacy of FSIs (free standing inserts). These promotional pieces that are largely supplied by big box retailers and QSRs deliver an important revenue stream to newspaper and utility to consumers. Digital alternatives have been emerging for the last five years, each promising better utility, metrics and efficiencies. The study from CreditCard.com explains why redemption rates from digital coupons have not yet matched what advertisers continue to enjoy through the printed product.

In meetings last week in Chicago with some major food advertisers we confirmed that their experience matches the results of CreditCard.com's survey. Moreover, their own research suggests that consumers find using their phone at check out across multiple coupons to be clunky at best. Managing through various apps to find each coupon makes customers stress that they are holding up the checkout process. In turn, they often hurry through the process, missing some coupons and paying more than they had planned. The shopping experience, the user experience and the initial intent of couponing all in turn suffer.

In a moment where the bright shiny object is always the ad darling, it's important to remember that there are some traditional devices that consumers still prefer and work in kind. Paper coupons may not appear to be as sexy as coupons served through a mobile device. But CreditCard.com's survey reminds us all that some promotional wheels don't require reinvention.

The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage/MyersBizNet management or associated bloggers.

This story was originally published Tuesday, Nov. 10, on the Media Village's website.