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The New York Times this morning reports that even in a time of inflation, when people are trying to figure out ways to make their money go farther, coupons are not the tool they used to be.

They are, in fact, getting "harder to come by. In 2021, Kantar Media estimates, 168 billion circulated, across both print and digital formats. That was down from about 294 billion in 2015.

"The shrinking coupon market includes not just the number of coupons distributed but also the share turned in at checkout. Redemption rates declined to 0.5 percent of all print and digital coupons in 2020 from about 3.5 percent in the early 1980s, according to a paper by economists at Harvard University, Georgetown University and Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf.

"The economists see a larger phenomenon: Increasingly time-strapped consumers don’t want to deal with even small hassles to save a few dollars on toothpaste."

The story goes on:

"“The declining use of coupons and the declining redemption rates indicate a fundamental shift in consumer shopping behavior,” the study's authors wrote, adding, “We view this as additional evidence that declining price sensitivity reflects a longer-run secular trend.”

KC's View:

This is a trend that can also be attributed to the impact of Covid-19.

It wasn't necessary for marketers to use coupons to drive demand during the pandemic, because pretty much everything that came in the back door would go out the front door.

And now, at a time when supply chain issues are creating shortages, using coupons to drive even more demand seems counter-intuitive.

In other words, events have conspired to disrupt a traditional business model.  It will be up to couponing companies to figure out ways to reinvent themselves, while at the same time retailers figure out ays to adapt to navigate a world in which "declining price sensitivity reflects a longer-run secular trend.”