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Online coupons become business driver when money is tight

BY Jenna Duncan

DADE CITY, Fla. The bad economy means good business for online coupon exposure, the St. Petersburg Times reported this week.

Many businesses are now using the power of the Internet coupon to attract more shoppers to their markets. Sources said that last year 2.6-billion coupons were used by American shoppers. The surge marks the first time in almost two decades that there was not a decline in coupon use.

Hits at various coupon Web sites have increased 66 percent in May compared to the same time last year, said HitWise online-competition research group. Yet Web-based coupon-ing remains a small industry—of the 279-billion coupons issued last year, only 0.2 percent were sent out online.

The biggest online coupon company, Invenda, operator of E-centives.com, has never turned a profit. In fact, as of the beginning of the year, the company faced a deficit of $162-million.

However, The Coupon Clippers, a coupon mailing that has turned into profitable online business, told the Times that it has recently been signing up customers by the thousands. According to the article, The Coupon Clippers’ sales have grown by about 25 percent in the last 12 months. The Coupon Clipper first launched its online presence in 1998.

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CDC reports no change in percentage of teen smokers

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON As states lose money for fighting teenage smoking and tobacco companies find ways to get new smokers to light up, anti-smoking efforts have stalled over the last five years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that smoking among teenagers aged 14 to 18 remained at 22 percent between 2003 and 2007. At the same time, however, the percentage of teenagers trying smoking for the first time declined by 20 percent from 1999’s 70 percent.

In 1999, 16.8 percent of teenage smokers said they smoked 20 cigarettes or more over the course of a month; in the 2003-2007 period, that number had declined to 8 percent.

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Corn organization launches Web site to educate about sweeteners

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON A trade organization representing the nation’s corn refiners has launched an advertising public relations campaign for high-fructose corn syrup.

The Corn Refiners Association has created a Web site, www.sweet-smarts.com, to “change the conversation” about the sweetener, which is found in food and beverage products ranging from soft drinks and juice to bread and yogurt.

“Scientific evidence continues to confirm that high-fructose corn syrup is no different from other sweeteners,” CRA President Audrae Erickson. “It is essentially the same as table sugar and honey and has the same number of calories.”

Some nutrition experts say that high-fructose corn syrup has contributed to the obesity epidemic. According to the Mayo Clinic, some studies have shown it to have adverse health effects on animals, though evidence in studies of humans is less clear.

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