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Impending death for paper coupons?

Representing a relatively new phenomenon in shopping, digital coupons show great promise for revolutionizing couponing.

In studying the marketing and usability of a specific type of electronic coupon digital coupons one University of Arizona research team has found some interesting and important preliminary findings about what consumers thought of digital coupons, how they used them, why they used them and what problems were associated with their use.

"In the literature, there is some information about these coupons, but there is no empirical data," said Anita Bhappu, the UA PetSmart associate professor and division chair of retailing and consumer sciences who headed up the research project.

Focused on grocery retailing, the effort is one of the first empirical investigations of consumer perceptions and use of digital coupons for "consumer packaged goods," which includes food items, beverages and products for cleaning.

In their study, Bhappu and her student researchers in the John & Doris North School fo Family and Consumer Sciences learned that digital coupons are used both for advertising and promoting products, but users often found them difficult to use.

The team held focus groups and administered surveys before and after a one-week trial of digital coupons, which included heavy users of paper coupons who Bhappu refers to as the "coupon divas," as well as non-users.

Not to be confused with electronic coupons available online that have to be printed out before being redeemed, these new digital coupons are downloaded directly to store loyalty cards. Fry's, Safeway and Sam's Club are among retailers currently testing digital coupons.

After loading the coupons to their loyalty cards via an Internet connection, many could not recall what coupons were available.

Also, many reported that the coupons did not redeem at checkout and cashiers did not know how to correct this service failure

Contact: La Monica Everett-Haynes
University of Arizona

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Impending death for paper coupons?
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