We’ve all heard of TLC’s reality TV show, Extreme Couponing, a show featuring bargain-obsessed shoppers that purchase groceries in excess amounts at steep discounts. For those of us that still receive the Sunday newspaper, you may have noticed the paper looking a tad thicker this holiday season – full of circulars promoting deep store discounts and inserts with coupons galore. But with declining circulation in newspapers and mobile adoption at its highest, are bargain hunters substituting scissors for the click of a mouse or a tap to download?

The Inmar Coupon Trend Report, most recently published in February 2014, provides a review of the previous twelve months’ worth of coupon distribution and settlement data – all in an effort to influence marketing strategy and tactics for the coming year. The latest report, which detailed statistics for the year-end of 2013, reported significant strides for the CPG and grocery industries for both paper and digital offers.

Some 329 billion coupons for CPGs, including both traditional paper coupons and digital paperless were distributed in 2013. Eighty-nine percent of all coupons distributed in 2013 were in the form of Free-standing Inserts (FSIs), which are mostly found in the Sunday newspapers. They also accounted for 41% of all redeemed coupons and were the most preferred method of acquisition amongst shoppers.

Fast forward to the first half of 2014 where 171 billion coupons were distributed by CPG companies. Of the 171 billion offers, 92.5% were placed in FSIs according to data supplied from NCH Marketing Services, a coupon audit and settlement company. Which lends itself to the question – how are paper coupons still thriving in their original environment?

When evaluating coupon source preference by generation, newspapers still represent 50% or more as the preferred method across all segments. While the audience of newspapers tends to skew older, when it comes to saving a buck or two, paper coupons know no age.

Source: Valassis

Additionally, CPG brands are using the space to promote more than just a discount, such as recipes – something that cannot be done in the online space unless advertisers have indulged in rich media units.

That’s not to say that digital coupons are struggling though. With mobile adoption at its highest, customers are demanding instant access to product and pricing information and expect to redeem offers/coupons through their smart devices. Digital coupons, especially for the consumer packaged goods industry, are becoming an integral part of retailers’ marketing strategies. Benefits such as ease of tracking, management and gaining a better understanding of customer buying preferences and purchase patterns make this a no-brainer tactic. In 2013 alone, more than 66 million digital coupons were redeemed. As more and more retailers incorporate digital marketing technology and hardware to scan digital coupons from a consumer’s mobile device, industry experts expect this number to rise even more.

Shoppers’ behavior continues to change and their need for instant satisfaction might just be met with a combination of both paper and digital couponing efforts. Implementing strategies that deliver to the mass for reach, paired with targeted digital efforts for reinforcement of the message, just might be the “right deal” to deliver value in the marketplace.