Is Couponing Dead? How Millennial and Generation Z Customer Behaviour is Affecting Discount Shopping

Once upon a time, consumers spent their weekend mornings clipping coupons out of the newspaper for the weekly shop. But is that the case any longer?

As times are changing, are shoppers — in particular Millennials and Generation Z — still relying on coupons? We’re investigating the latest coupon trends you need to know.

Couponing Stats

According to Valassis, 90% of consumers use coupons in some way.

Juniper Research estimated there would be 1.05 billion digital coupon users by 2019, and that by 2022 digital coupon redemptions will reach $91 billion.

Orian Research found that the global mobile coupons industry is slated to grow by 56.5% by 2025.

According to, in 2018 56% of Canadian survey respondents made a point of shopping with retailers who offered coupons over the holiday season.

Beyond Coupons

However, the face of couponing may be changing. While older generations are still relying on paper coupons in flyer inserts, younger tech-friendly generations may be turning more to digital deals. But from a retailer standpoint, the issue with a digital coupon program can be that it is hard to validate.

As retail changes, more and more retailers appear to be relying on other sales incentives to attract younger generations, in particular:

  • Free shipping. When shopping online, this can give a significant savings to shoppers.
  • Offering in-store and online sales vs. coupons. For instance, a limited-time three-day sale or an exclusive sale for newsletter subscribers with an online shopping code. Some retailers offer price-matching, too, so a sale at one store can be a sale at all stores.
  • Personalization through data algorithms is also rising in popularity. Take for example the PC Optimum program, which bases points on consumer habits. More and more brands are targeting consumers based on past behaviour. For instance, a new mother may want coupons for diapers, but the same coupons would not appeal to other demographics.
  • We also recently wrote about loyalty programs and how those are changing in scope. In some ways, loyalty programs are taking the place of traditional couponing – offering rewards for shopping at the same places or buying the same brands.
  • Offering limited-time coupons. For instance, certain retailers will offer coupons at checkout for 10% off the shopper’s next purchase, but it must be used within a certain timeframe — usually a small window.

The Disappearing Middle

Coupons also don’t fit into the new retail landscape of some retailers. We’ve written recently about the disappearing middle — how retail is moving towards discount stores and high-end luxury, but those stores that fall in the middle are struggling to find a place.

In both of those instances, coupons aren’t necessarily as important. For the bargain stores, prices are already so low that coupons are not always feasible. For the luxury retailers, exclusivity can be part of the package – so coupons may not be in the marketing plan.

The Number One Coupon Complaint

According to a Retail Council of Canada survey, one of the top online purchasing complaints is that a coupon or gift certificate can’t be used online. 16% of consumers pointed to this as their top complaint, following being forced to log in or sign up in order to complete their purchase (26%), online price being different from in-store price (19%), and unable to order online and pick up in-store (17%).

Is Couponing Dead – Or Just Changing?

It seems that couponing is undergoing a transformation, much like the rest of retail. While the majority of shoppers still appreciate a good deal, the days of extreme couponing may be gone as tactics such as exclusive sales, personalization, and omnichannel shopping promotions take over.

What do you think? Is couponing dying – or just changing? Or is it still going strong? Let us know on social media. Marketsupport Canada is on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Take control of your brand in-store and online. Marketsupport Canada offers customized support to build awareness and increase sales. Learn more today. Call 1-877-421-5081 or visit

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