I have to admit—I have a fondness for "old fashioned" paper coupons. I was raised on paper coupons, and I learned how to coupon using paper coupons. So while I like a digital coupon code as much as the next person, for me, nothing beats the feeling of plunking down a coupon I cut out myself and seeing the savings add up. As it turns out, I needn't worry that digital coupons will replace my paper treasures anytime soon.

In this post, learn why the print coupon isn't going anywhere and how to redeem it!

Number of print coupons in circulation

Each year, billions of coupons are printed. How many billions, precisely? According to NCH Marketing Services, 310 billion coupons were offered to consumers in 2014. Less than one percent of those coupons were in a digital format. This means that nearly 307 billion print coupons were released last year. Coupon-clipping consumers saved $3.6 billion in 2014—this represents a redemption rate of approximately 1 percent of distributed coupons.

Who loves print coupons the most?

The answer to this question is, "everyone."

Millenials (ages 18-36), Gen X'ers (ages 37-48), Baby Boomers (ages 49-67)—according to Bloomberg Business, all report similar usage statistics for print coupons. Here, "print coupons" include newspaper inserts, coupons by mail, print-at-home coupons, and coupons downloaded from the Internet and printed.

The history of the coupon

As of yet, not every retailer has the ability to integrate the use of couponing apps and digital scanning into their existing technology. But every store that wants to can implement a marketing plan that includes print coupons.

According to Time, the first coupon came to us courtesy of Coca-Cola in 1887. It was hand-written, and the offer was simple: "Redeem this coupon for a free glass of Coca-Cola…a $0.5 value."

The coupon was an instant hit, and was redeemed an estimated 8.5 million times (to the tune of $425,000), in the process transforming Coca-Cola into an enduring nationwide success.

The print-coupon lifecycle 

Most all of us know how to actually redeem a print coupon.

  • Step 1: Clip the coupon (or download and print it).
  • Step 2: Bring it to the store.
  • Step 3: Hand it to the cashier at checkout.

But I'll bet you don't know where that coupon was before it came to you (I know I didn't until I researched it!)—or where it goes after you hand it over at checkout.

Here’s the print coupon's lifecycle from start to finish:

  • A manufacturer or retail store decides to launch a coupon-based promotion.
  • The print coupon is designed and approved.
  • The print coupon is then distributed to consumers (a.k.a. you) through an in-store flyer, on product shelves, with the product itself (such as on the box or taped to the packaging), through newspaper inserts, via direct mail, through an Internet download, and in other ways as well.
  • You nab the coupon (in any of the above ways) and decide to use it.
  • You present the coupon at checkout for your savings.
  • When the cashier counts out their till at shift-end, they also collate and (typically) total up the value of their coupons and turn that in with their cash.
  • Each week, the store manager collates and totals up the entire coupon "take" for that week.
  • The store manager then mails the coupons directly to the manufacturer or to a coupon clearinghouse for processing.
  • Within 1-2 months, the store manager will receive a check with reimbursement for any manufacturer coupons that were redeemed.

If you want to learn more about the coupon's life cycle, check out this great KCL post!

How to find print coupons

The previous section touched on the many ways print coupons can be distributed.

However, almost 93% of print coupons are offered through what is called a "free-standing insert," better known as the "Sunday newspaper coupon insert." As a part of the KCL community, you have it easier than everyone else when it comes to finding and redeeming printable paper coupons.

This is because KCL offers you easy links that take you directly to all the current coupon offers in print (oh, and mobile coupon offers too!)

So all you have to do is save and print the coupons you want to use before your shopping trip each week—it really is that easy!

Are Print Coupons Becoming Obsolete?