Supermarkets renew focus on vouchers

LONDON - Vouchers and money-off coupons are set to be the next big battleground for the UK's major supermarkets, according to industry experts.

Supermarkets renew focus on vouchers

All the big multiples increased their year-on-year adspend in the run-up to last Christmas, except Morrisons, which cut its spend by more than 29%.

However, the latter posted the greatest increase in market share, due, in part, to money-off voucher promotions. Retail analysts believe that one promotion offering customers a £20-off voucher when they spent more than £40 in three consecutive weeks was instrumental in generating its record Christmas sales.

According to insiders, Waitrose is also due to put coupons at the heart of its 2009 marketing strategy following a successful discount voucher promotion before Christmas. It is already offering money-off vouchers to customers who have recently reduced their regular spend at Waitrose.

'Coupons are used more during a recession. Retailers and brands see them as a cheap tactical solution to change consumer behaviour but not cause long-term brand damage,' said an Institute of Sales Promotion spokesman.

Voucher websites are the fastest-growing area of internet retail. Hitwise's UK research director, Robin Goad, said that one in every 200 visits to an online retail site now comes from a voucher site. 'Tesco voucher codes' was the top online search for voucher codes last month.