Print coupons under digital attack

For inserts and coupons, newspapers are still doing well. This NYT article speculates that print coupons are doomed, even though they still remain popular with consumers today.

“The paper coupon is the single most inefficient marketing tool you could imagine,” said Peter Sealey, a former chief marketing officer at Coca-Cola who is a marketing consultant in Sausalito, Calif. “The traditional paper coupon is going to die. It can’t survive in the Internet world.”

But I’m not sure anybody has come up with a better digital alternaive yet, especially for manufacturer’s coupons. Printing out coupons isn’t necessarily more efficient than clipping them, and when you print them, they still generally need to be clipped. Mobile devices offer some potential, but the solution will need to seem simple and intuitive to consumers.

There are some potential options for online newspapers to leverage their local relationships, and even reach new advertisers who can’t afford print, but this might be an area where a national disruptive play might find it hard to get traction — at least until small business owners become more Net savvy.

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