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It's National Coupon Month - grab the scissors and celebrate! Last year, 249 billion coupons were offered by U.S. packaged-goods marketers, representing $3.6 billion in potential savings, according to "Worldwide Coupon Distribution & Redemption Trends, 1999" from NCH NuWorld Marketing Limited. Those numbers are holding steady after five years of decline due to more targeted offers, diminished face-value, and shortened expiration dates. About 81 percent of all shoppers say that cutting coupons is a Sunday-morning ritual. Use of free-standing inserts by marketers grew last year, to 80.7 percent, leaving other vehicles - such as in-store handouts, newspapers, magazines, direct mail, and on-pack pieces - to fight it out for the remaining 19.3 percent. And frequent-shopper programs are making inroads into the grocery coupon market, with 66 percent of shoppers saying they belong to at least one store's program, according to ACNielsen. That's up 11 percentage points from 1997. Savvie! r savers are going to the Web to get their coupons: 23 percent of online users who download a coupon actually redeem them, according to NPD Online Research. Check out these stats to see where America's shoppers are.

Beauty Before Groceries

- Total grocery coupons distributed in 1998: 161.6 billion (-1.4% vs. 1997)

- Total grocery coupons redeemed in 1998: 3.5 billion (-4.6%)

- Total HBC coupons distributed in 1998: 87.4 billion (+1.3%)

- Total HBC coupons redeemed in 1998: 1.26 billion (+5.9%)

Source: NCH NuWorld

Gimme Redemption!

In 1998, consumers' overall interest in offers dropped (vs. 1997):

- Always use 25.1% (-2%)

- Sometimes use 36.1% (-1.5%)

- Rarely use 19.6% (+0.5%)

Source: NCH NuWorld

The Cost of Loyalty

"How much would it take to get you to try a different brand of an item priced at $2?"

- 5.8% would switch for 31-cents to 45-cents off

- 29.4% would switch for 46-cents to 55-cents off

- 33.2% would switch for 56-cents to 75-cents off

- 60.9% would switch for 76-cents to $1 off

- 70.2% would switch for $1.01+

- 19.4% wouldn't switch, regardless of coupon value

- 22.8% of women (vs. 15.9% of men) wouldn't switch

- 10.4% couldn't decide

Source: NCH NuWorld

Who's Using Whom?

Demos of average frequent-shopper cardholders

- Household size: 3+ members

- Household income: $50,000+

- Skewed to East and West coasts

Source: ACNielsen

Here's My Card

Frequent-shopper program members use their cards:

- Every time 94%

- Most of the time 12%

- Sometimes 5%

- Rarely/never 2%

Source: ACNielsen

What They're Buying

Top 10 Categories Dollar Index

- Meal starters, refrigerated 228

- Yeast 219

- Wine 136

- Pudding desserts, dairy 123

- Yogurt 122

- Baby food 121

- Tea 118

- Refrigerated juices/drinks 116

- Dried fruit 116

- Bottled water 115

Card members vs. non-members

Source: ACNielsen

Surfing for Savings

How Internet users find coupons online:

- General browsing: 50%

- Online ads: 23%

- Recommendations from friends/relatives: 10%

- Non-Web in-store/point-of-sale advertising: 7%

- Newspaper ads: 4%

Source: NPD Online Research

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