Young shoppers are embracing coupons, despite their stodgy reputation. However, the spread of digital coupons is hampered by a lack of brand participation and an often confusing customer experience.

About nine in 10 millennials use coupons. Many of them acquire those discounts from digital outlets like RetailMeNot and Ebates, rather than traditional paper inserts. The major coupon apps far outrank CPG brand apps in popularity, according to L2’s Digital IQ Index: Home Care.

Coupon apps
Some brands, such as P&G, realize that they can get a bigger visibility boost from partnering with apps than releasing their own offering. P&G gains the lion’s share of visibility on mobile grocery and coupon apps, accounting for a third of coupons on each app analyzed in L2’s study.

However, brands in other sectors have been slower to offer digital coupons. For example, barely a third of brands in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Food feature coupons on Walmart’s site, and only 14% offer them on amazon.com.

Furthermore, many shoppers find that locating and redeeming digital coupons often proves more complicated than clipping their paper counterparts.

“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 research cited by Bloomberg. “Somehow, in the upside-down world of couponing, digital is actually more difficult than paper.”

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