The wealthy are more likely to use coupons, ironically

Feb 10, 2014 at 10:05 a.m. ET

Do you think the wealthiest people probably have more money than they know what to do with? That they throw around the phrase, “Money is no object!” when they shop for everyday items? You may be surprised to know that many of them keep more of their money than the average person — because they use coupons.

Woman shopping online

Online shopping has become a big business, and not just around the holidays. One of the biggest enticements for consumers to turn to online shopping are special deals like coupon codes or free shipping. You might assume that these online deals are mostly snatched up by low-to-middle-class shoppers, but that’s not the case. According to a recent survey, the wealthiest people may be the biggest coupon users on the Internet.

Do coupons entice buyers?

Researchers from Tada, a new coupon site from Shopzilla, wanted to see how coupons affected online purchasing behavior. During the period of Dec. 30, 2013, to Jan. 4, 2014, data was collected from 8,498 online buyers via Bizrate Insights immediately after an online purchase. In the tradition of the old “chicken or the egg” question, researchers were interested to see whether having a coupon enticed a purchase, or if the consumer was already planning to purchase the item before he or she received a coupon. Overall, 23 percent of online shoppers surveyed used a coupon — and researchers found that 53 percent of online shoppers who used a coupon with their transactions were inspired to shop for the item after receiving the coupon.

Coupons affect purchases

Many online purchases are purely arbitrary — whether it's choosing a gift for a friend, a household item or something for yourself like a book or clothing item. So how much does the availability of a coupon affect the actual purchase? Apparently, it affects the wealthiest people the most. According to survey data, a full 65 percent of the wealthiest shoppers (annual income of $150,000 or higher) surveyed would not have made their purchases if they didn’t have the coupon — compared to 51 percent of shoppers earning under $40,000 annually.

Where are they finding these coupons?

Many people search for coupons through search engines like Google or Safari, while others find coupons and special deals through Facebook pages, Twitter, online newsletters or other social-media sites. A full 40 percent of shoppers with an annual household income of $150,000 or higher used a search engine to find their coupons, versus only 28 percent of those making less than $40,000 per year.

Not everyone is on board

Even with the relatively easy access to coupons online, not everyone likes to use them. Citing time constraints, the wealthiest people say that a lack of time is the main reason they aren’t interested in searching for coupons. But ironically, the wealthiest people are the group that loves to use coupons, with a full 84 percent of those earning $150,000 or more annually responding that they like and use coupons frequently, versus 75 percent of those earning under $40,000 per year.

The Bottom line

Maybe the wealthiest shoppers know how to stay wealthy — and we can all learn a bit from their online spending habits.

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Photo credit: Andersen Ross/Photodisc/Getty Images
Get more coupon data at Tada.