NEW YORK (6/18/08)--The economic slump has consumers scrambling for ways to save a dollar or two. With the popularity of coupons on the rise, retailers, marketers and manufacturers are developing ways to make coupons more accessible and appealing to shoppers, who are ditching the scissors (SmartMoney.com
June 2). For the past 16 years, coupon clipping has been a declining practice among American consumers. Last year, however, 2.6 billion shoppers redeemed coupons, reversing the downward trend, according to CouponInfoNow.com
. To keep this movement on the rise, new technologies are being introduced to the coupon clipping department. Here are three new ways to “clip” coupons without the scissors:
* Loaded loyalty cards. Sites such as AOL’s shortcuts.com allow you to load manufacturers’ coupons directly to their store loyalty cards. When in the checkout line, all you have to do is make sure your swipe your card and your coupons are redeemed. * Shopping widgets. A new Mealbox widget (mealbox.meijer.com) developed by grocery chain Meijer Inc. lets you set up meal plans and online shopping lists, and it automatically attaches available coupons to the shopping list. You simply print the list and take it in for scanning at the checkout line. Meijer runs 182 stores throughout Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky. * Cellphone coupons. Cellfire is leading the way in the mobile coupon field, which is expected to yield $7 billion annually by 2011, says United Kingdom-based Juniper Research. Cellfire is a Web browsing tool that downloads and stores coupon codes onto cellphones in easy-to-navigate lists, eliminating the need for clipping coupons or searching the Web for the best deals. You show the coupon code on your phone to retailers for redemption.
Marketers know coupons can help develop brand loyalty and customer relationships, so as they contend for ways to best target and engage their consumers, expect new distribution methods to continue to hit the market.