NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Millennials are maintaining their conservative fiscal financial stance as more of them use coupons on a regular basis to shop and even search for restaurant deals.
As they are shopping online or in brick and mortar stores, 92% of Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) said they use coupons whether they are digital or paper ones, according to a survey of 1,000 Americans by Valassis, the communications service company, and Ipsos, the market research firm. In the past year, 51% of Millennials said they are using more coupons, which is more than Generation X and Baby Boomers.
Using coupons has become a regular occurrence for Jason Fischbach, a Millennial who searches for them before making a purchase.
"The reason I use coupons so regularly is because there always seems to be one," he said. "Paying full retail price for something just seems wrong when it's so easy to do a quick search online and find a 20% discount or $10 off. Since everything from college, to commuting, to rent being so expensive, it's foolish to throw money away by not taking the time to find these easy savings."
Fischbach, 24, who works at a New York PR firm, said he tends to use coupons for most items, especially to find discounts for food and restaurants and stores like Kohl's and a few others that regularly send coupons or discounts. He also does a quick search before completing any online orders or if he is shopping in a store.
"If I'm in a store and thinking of making a purchase, I'll use my phone to see if there are any additional discounts," he said. "These may be from other retailers or through social media applications like Foursquare."
Using coupons is becoming commonplace and there is less social stigma attached to it, he said.
"I think the stigma's long gone, Fischbach said. "Now that people have the ability to compare prices and find discounts at their fingertips constantly, it feels like coupons are just another step in that process of finding the best deal. Since we're bombarded with them on a daily basis anyway, why not use them?"
Millennials consist of 21% of consumer spending currently and are more likely than other age groups to buy items online only after looking at them in a store and to combine online and print coupons, said Valassis in its report. They typically only engage after receiving a coupon that allows them to take a third or more off the ticket price.
Shoppers are altering their habits, and many no longer make purchases based on the brand, said Brad McEvily, CEO of Photopon, a Hackettstown, N.J. social shopping service that lets you give free and paid digital gifts to your Facebook friends and receive promotions.
"They simply don't trust brands alone anymore so coupons aren't quite as effective at driving new traffic and growth unless it's coming from existing loyal customers and distributed via their inner social circles who aren't already customers," he said. "The Millennial generation is heavily influenced by their social circle and the ability to have a variety of actions and forms of expression at their fingertips. Photopon is a social coupon for a social generation."
Consumers are increasingly turning to social media to find out about discounts or coupons. The survey found that 71% of those who search the Internet for coupons have done so after hearing about it in social media. Another 40% have shared or traded coupons on social media, a 10% increase from 2012. Mail and newspaper coupons remain favorites among all consumers with 52% favoring newspapers while 51% still using mail coupons as their first choice.
Coupons are a way for Cristina Nogueras, who is 24 and works at the Hispanic division of a New York public relations agency, to try new things and dining places.
"I try to use them as much as possible," she said. "I look for ways to feed my interests and stay within my budget. My strategy is to not go crazy buying things just because I have a deal is to check coupons and deals regularly, but only use them when I truly need or want what is being offered."
Nogueras doesn't feel there's a stigma attached to saving and is willing to put in a little effort to snag the deal.
"My thought is why pay regular price for something, when I can spend some time looking for deals and actually save money?" she said. "If I am going to buy it anyways, I might as well be smart about it."
Groupon is the favorite site for Nogueras to find deals since it encourages her to try new things that she might otherwise not be able to afford regularly.
"My friends are not as dedicated to savings as I am, but they are all hooked on Groupon," she said. "Most of my friends use Groupon for restaurant and festival deals."
Receiving emails directly from the retailers is good since it tells her about special sales that are occurring.
"I always try to take a look to see if there's anything interesting," Nogueras said.
Some retailers make using coupons even easier by allowing consumers to print them inside the store.
"I go into the store and print out coupons and see if any of them fit within my list," she said. "I visit CVS about two or three times a week just to see what's on sale that I need. I try to always make smart purchases. By keeping an eye out for deals and sales, I try to only buy things when there's a good deal out there."
Millennials not only grew up during the recession, they became attuned to using coupons and social media to shop. Manufacturers and retailers should capitalize from this behavior, said Jonathan Asher, executive vice president of Perception Research Services, a Teaneck, N.J. consumer research company.
"Boomers and Genii X lived through times of prosperity and excess, so the use of coupons was not necessary for many of them and had negative connotations for some," he said. "Conversely, Millennials grew up when many people had to find ways of economizing – including using coupons - and doing so successfully carried with it an image of being smart and savvy. They rely on the opinions of others to help shape their preferences."
--Written by Ellen Chang for MainStreet