When It Comes to Coupons, Millennials Aren’t Always Mobile

Millennials have had serious image problems as the newest generation. They’ve been called lazy, self-centered, and indecisive. They’ve been very slow to marry, settle down, buy homes, and start families. But as this generation continues to come of age, marketers are finally starting to take notice, and for good reasons. After all, Millennials have now surpassed both Generation X and the Baby Boomers to become the largest age group in America, which means they will be the ones to drive economic activity in the coming decades. One question many have wondered about is this: Where do Millennials stand on coupons?


At first, you might think this is a no-brainer. Millennials represent the first truly tech-savvy generation. Some even call them digital natives. Both in stereotypes and statistics, they’re the ones who are constantly on their smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets. So the natural assumption is that mobile coupons must be their preferred choice for getting great deals. But take a look at the following two very different headlines from recent media stories about Millennials and coupons:


Millennials are increasingly using mobile coupons: eMarketer


Millennials Have Unexpected Fondness for Paper Coupons


These two headlines seem to be at odds, especially for those who just assume Millennials would prefer mobile coupons. The eMarketer story was reporting on research conducted by Valassis. One of its main findings was that “45% more millennials used mobile coupons in Q3 2015 compared to the previous year.” The corresponding growth in Gen Xers and Boomers was only 27%. But then along comes the Payment Week story reporting on research by Quad/Graphics showing that a surprising number of Millennials not only like paper coupons, many prefer them over digital versions. What’s a marketer to do with these conflicting headlines? Here’s a third headline that helps bring some perspective the conundrum:


Study: Millennials like coupons — print or paperless


The story by Chain Store Age reports on the findings of the 2K16 Coupon Intelligence Report, another Valassis research effort. Simply put, Millennials use paper coupons at about the same rate as the general population, and they are also more likely to take advantage of digital coupons. The key word here is and. Here’s why:


When you put these three headlines together, the result is a simple lesson to learn: When it comes to coupons, viewing the choice between digital and paper using an either/or framework is a mistake. In other words, companies that think of it as a choice between either digital coupons or paper coupons will inevitably find themselves missing out on some great opportunities. The path to success is found in your willingness to use both digital and paper coupons.


Companies that want to do well by Millennials must take a more holistic approach to create media strategies integrating all of the different ways Millennials like to find deals. Doing so means spending more time and effort than those focusing on only one or the other, but will likely pay big dividends to those who rise to the challenge.

Thrive commerce

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