Do coupons seem to you faintly old-fashioned, a relic from the days of ubiquitous newspaper delivery? Well, expand your understanding of the term to include all the ways you’ve ever shaved $10 off an online order and it becomes obvious that actually, millennials fucking love coupons.
This phenomenon is the subject of a new Bloomberg Businessweek feature, surveying the coupon business in 2016. Millennials happily try everything from Ebates to RetailMeNot, from flash sales to loyalty programs. Meanwhile, old-school coupon distributors are enthusiastically attempting to cash in on this generation’s love of deals (and, of course, general brokeness). For instance, last year Coupons.com owner Quotient Technology Inc. purchased the app Shopmium, explicitly in the goal of chasing those youngsters.
Thing is, the current situation is a bit scattered—a pile of emails from online retailers there, some “check here for discount” on Diapers.com there. And so some companies are attempting to build one-stop solutions, the digital equivalent of whoever made sure those coupons arrived tucked into the newspaper every Sunday:
Bryan Leach, chief executive officer of Ibotta, a rebate app with 18 million users, has no patience for newspapers, printable coupons, or app-flooded phones. “Our goal is to destroy and obliterate paper promotions and to replace them with something more interesting, more fun, and more valuable,” Leach says. “You don’t need to download 16 different apps, you don’t need one for every other place you shop.”
But as of yet, the paper versions aren’t going anywhere. Direct Marketing Systems, which distributes local coupons via envelope, boasts a steadily circulation of 39 million; the circular SmartSource has held steady at 73 million in recent years. And it’s not just grandmothers using them, either:
Millennials, too, remain more likely to use a coupon received in the mail than one found on an app or website, according to a survey for Linkable Networks conducted by Forrester Research. “Even in today’s digital world, consumers still use paper coupons at a surprisingly high rate, likely because most digital options do not provide a seamless customer experience,” Forrester wrote in its research. “Somehow, in the upside-down world of couponing, digital is actually more difficult than paper.”
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Well, it’s either that or build a garden shed out of all these Bed Bath & Beyond coupons they’ve been sending all these years.