The Rise of Couponing in Small Business

This week, couponing and consumer savings site launched an infographic called "The Coupon's Comeback." The graphic argues that couponing, a phenomenon largely dormant for the last 20 years, has found a resurrection in the form of online media, social couponing sites, and more traditional dashboard sites. "The Coupon's Comeback" explores the rise in coupon offers and redemption since pre-recession times, the surprising demographics of coupon use, and the evolution of online couponing.

According to the graphic, Americans have been engaged in a "long-term affair with the coupon," which is not entirely surprising, since the coupon has been around for over 100 years. Recently however, there has been a huge surge in coupon use and as a result, spending and savings are up. More and more small businesses are offering coupons, and the number of online coupons increased 360 percent since 2009. As more retailers get online, that number will continue to multiply. By 2014, the number of mobile coupon users is projected to grow a staggering thirteen-fold.

Despite this growth in online couponing, only 1.5 percent of all redeemed coupons are accounted for by Internet coupon codes and promotional codes. Furthermore, according to the infographic, the most recent data shows that in 2010 Americans only redeemed 0.6 percent of the total possible savings offered with coupons. Seemingly, the issue is not the number of coupons offered, but how customers are accessing these deals.

With an increasing number of small businesses offering deals, it can be wearisome to actually find them. Prior to the most recent Internet coupon boom, the fastest way to shop and save was by scouring the Sunday pages for coupons prior to purchasing; a time-consuming process often not worth the amounts saved. Moreover, many of the largest companies with far-reaching marketing arms don't offer the best deals, even though they can be ubiquitous. Sites like function by performing these types of searches automatically, bringing together all the best deals from large and small companies, as well as both print and Internet coupon codes, in one easily navigable location.

Consumer demands are changing. Customers want more immediate access to the best relevant deals and are using the Internet as the primary way to redeem coupons. Now, one in five smartphone users use mobile coupons and the demographics of coupon users are shifting. According to "The Coupon's Comeback," households with an income of over $100,000 are twice more likely to use coupons than households earning less than $35,000. For small businesses, this is a prime market and a great opportunity to offer chances for saving within the overlooked benefits of online couponing.

In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by Forrester Research, companies that offer coupons are viewed more favorably by consumers than those that do not. The result of this is increased brand loyalty, where savings opportunities often determine the final purchase.

Consumers who save by using coupons offered by small businesses contribute in two meaningful ways. First, they save money for themselves. Second, they support a small business that otherwise may not have had the sale, improving their chances for finding a similar deal from the same place. Ultimately, this online coupon renaissance is a win-win, for consumers and small businesses alike.

With enough coupons offered in 2010 to save every single American $1,677, there has never been a better time to take advantage of these types of coupon opportunities. "The Coupon Comeback" and the booming of sites like highlight the increased, and now integral, role that saving money has in customers' shopping habits -- spending may be necessary, but saving is the key.