BOSTON (TheStreet) — With consumers increasingly clipping coupons to save money, businesses are looking to cash in on their frugality.
Shoppers saved $600 million more in the first nine months this year than a year earlier, a 30% increase, according to NCH Marketing Services, a subsidiary of Valassis Communications (VCI) (Stock Quote: VCI), a media and marketing services company that owns RedPlum.com, a popular coupon resource. Coupon distribution by makers of consumer packaged goods rose 11% to 231 billion coupons.
Among the popular sites vying for prominence in the online coupon market are RetailMeNot.com, BradsDeals.com, Savings.com and CouponCabin.com. Lesser-known sites seeking to draw away market share are 8coupons.com, a mobile coupon platform for small businesses; MoneyMailer.com, a coupon search engine that was named Entrepreneur Magazine's top advertising services franchise for 2009; CouponCabin.com, a site that provides both printable coupons and online coupon codes; and PricesandCoupons.com, a service that integrates price comparison with coupon codes.
(VCI) "Redemption did not start to increase until the fourth quarter of 2008, following the financial crisis that began in September 2008," says Charlie Brown, vice president of marketing for NCH. "Since then, redemption volumes have consistently been up throughout 2009 due to dramatically changed consumer shopping behavior with coupons."
Demand for coupons has increased tension among the top companies in the space.
(VCI) This past summer, Valassis won a $300 million verdict against News America Marketing (NAM), a subsidiary of the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp. (NWS) . It accused the coupon powerhouse of trying to monopolize supermarket advertising.
(VCI) (NWS) In July, following the verdict in Michigan's Wayne County Circuit Court, NAM president Chris Mixson said the decision "rewards a company that turned to litigation as its business strategy rather than compete." He said evidence barred by the court would have made a case that Valassis tried "to induce collusion when it announced its new pricing policy in a public investor call."
NCH says online coupon distribution rose 41% during the first 9 months of 2009 and RedPlum.com saw coupon prints from the site jump 51% so far this year. At year-end 2008, online coupons represented 4.8% of all coupons redeemed in the U.S., compared to 6.3% by mid-year 2009.
Citing the fact that many are using their mobile devices to find local businesses, Google now allows businesses to add a coupon to its Local Business Center feature. These coupons can be either printed from a traditional workstation or used with a mobile device.
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