The Affiliate Marketing Shopper Part 1: Couponers

We recently released a comprehensive 18-month study, surveying 15,000+ online shoppers on their habits when buying online, with a focus on online coupons and rewards, cashback sites, budget planning, and online shopping behaviours. In the first part of our three-part series, we unveil the prominence of coupons in the ever-evolving landscape of shopper preferences.

Starting in early 2022, we started a long-term study on consumers’ affiliate shopping habits. Over the past 18 months, we’ve surveyed 15,000+ US shoppers, focusing on their use of online coupons, reward, and cashback sites, budget planning, and what and how they’re doing their online shopping over time.

This is part 1 of a 3-part series where we dive into the past and present of US consumers’ reward shopping habits and opinions. As we start out the series, we’re exploring everyone’s favourite tried and true e-commerce reward: coupons.

 Today, shoppers are planning their holiday budgets and they’re starting to feel the pinch of higher interest rates and raised prices. Despite this, our research proves that now, more than ever, consumers are looking for a good deal. Shoppers are also searching for brand-specific coupon codes or clicking into their favourite cashback browser add-ons to find the best deals available.

The rise of coupon shoppers

The rise of the coupon shopper is one that highlights the awakening of the US consumer; they are becoming more knowledgeable about the value of their dollar, especially in the face of rising costs and interest rates. Since early 2021, we’ve noticed a distinct uptick in the number of shoppers that use online coupons, most recently hitting a peak of 88% of all survey respondents saying they seek out coupons when shopping online.

This current peak in coupon usage correlates with the US Federal Reserve’s Federal Funds Effective Rate. The current rate has held steady at 5.33% since August of 2023, which lines up with coupon usage, also maintaining 88% in the same period. This leads us to ask: will the trends continue, and will shoppers continue to look for and use online coupons once rates decrease? With such a strong correlation, keeping a close eye on the FED’s interest rate fluctuations can help your brand be more strategically coupon-focused in affiliate publisher partnerships moving forward.

Coupon use vs. Federal Funds Effective Rate (US)

Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US)

Coupon shopper personas – get to know your couponer!

Couponer PersonasOf the 88% who use coupons, we’ve narrowed down 5 distinct types of coupon consumers to help you decide who you should be targeting in your next campaign or partnership. We’re breaking down each consumer and their willingness and desire to use coupons when shopping.

The deal-hunting couponer: always looks for the best deal around and remains loyal to their favorite coupon sites.

  • 25% of our survey respondents are active deal hunters, they will always seek out promotions, even prior to shopping!

The fair-weather couponer: likes a good deal, but only seeks one out when they really need it.

  • The largest group of all couponers; 34% of respondents will occasionally look for coupon codes, but it isn’t always top of mind.

The needs a nudge couponer: will make the effort to find a good deal, but only if reminded at checkout!

  • 17% are already making a purchase but will remember to look for a coupon only when they see the “enter promo code” box.

The do the work for me couponer: makes technology do the work for them, uses a browser extension that finds the best deal available.

  • 12% of couponers have a browser extension that automatically scans all available coupons to find them the best deal – no work required.

The coupons? what are those? customerCoupons? I don’t need those! Never seek out coupons or deals when shopping online.

  • The remaining 22% of survey respondents are in the “I don’t use coupons” camp, but this number has been dwindling since we launched our survey. Over the past 18 months, there has been a 26% increase in coupon use from the non-couponers.

What deals do shoppers really want?

For holiday shopping_ what type of promotion most strongly motivates you make an online purchaseWe asked consumers which is the most coveted of all promotions and which would be the most likely to motivate them to make a purchase this holiday season, and the top two answers were nearly evenly matched, with 30% saying they look for free shipping and 29% looking for a discount offer (a coupon or special offer).

Looking deeper into our active coupon demographic we found that that 41% of them prefer a discount or coupon over 18% preferring free shipping. For those who don’t use coupons, they are still looking to snag a deal, as they’re looking to find free shipping when shopping. They were going to purchase the item either way and free shipping was the gift they didn’t know they wanted this holiday season.

Harness the power of the coupon shopper

As consumers grow savvier in their online deal hunting, it’s critical that brands understand what motivates their audience to continue their loyalty and up their spending. The key to unlocking success with the savvy shopper, more often than not, is coupons and discounts. Fortunately, retail brands have more options than ever to partner with coupon and loyalty sites that provide opportunities to get their name, and coupons, in front of new and existing customers.

Providing exclusive coupon codes and promotions to affiliate partners is an excellent way to grab the attention of shoppers looking to save some extra money throughout the year, but especially during the holiday season.

Check back soon for our next installment where we dive into the power of loyalty sites and their recent boom in popularity. Until then, check out our blog series on award-winning affiliate strategies that you can leverage to take your affiliate marketing to the next level.

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Rakuten Advertising

Rakuten Advertising leads the industry in delivering performance-driven ad solutions that help the world’s top brands connect with unique, highly engaged audiences – from first impression to final sale.