Study: 90% of Americans Use Coupon Codes — Here’s How by Generation

The rise of the internet has provided American consumers with a way to shop in their pajamas — and save money doing it. A new study based on a survey from CouponFollow takes a look at the habits of online coupon users and finds that 89.76% of American consumers have used (or attempted to use) a coupon code in the past year.

In this study we also examine how online coupon users find and apply coupons, as well as differences across generations. If you’re looking for insights into how you can make the most of online coupons, our previous coupon data study might help you save some money this year.

Online coupon code survey highlights

  • Out of 10 American adults, 9 have attempted to use an online coupon code in the last year.
  • Among these adults, 69% claim that getting a coupon, deal or discount is “very influential” or “extremely influential” in the decision to make a purchase — with millennials (75%) the most likely to be influenced by a coupon to make a purchase.
  • Emails and search engines are the most popular ways to find online coupons. However, among millennial and Gen Z shoppers, browser extensions are also a popular source of online coupon codes.
  • Seven in 10 online coupon users “frequently,” “almost always” or “always” search for a coupon code while on the cart or checkout page. Additionally, 6 in 10 American online shoppers search for coupon codes before getting to a cart or checkout page.
  • American consumers report having mixed success with coupon websites, with 1 of 3 shoppers (33%) finding success “almost always” or “usually” and 43% reporting that coupon websites only “sometimes” have valid coupons for their purchases.
  • Although online coupon users express some frustration, overall they seem satisfied to get a discount, even if it’s just sometimes. Almost half of American online coupon users (49%) are either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the overall experience they have with coupon websites.

American consumers are all about the online shopping discount

Among online shoppers, 90% have attempted to use an online coupon code in the last year. Perhaps not surprising, millennials (94.15%) and Gen Z (95.03%) shoppers are most likely to have tried using an online coupon code.

However, even members of Gen X (91.86%) and baby boomers (81.43%) are overwhelmingly likely to try to use coupon codes in an effort to get an online shopping discount.

For most online shoppers, the allure of a discount has the potential to make or break a purchase. In fact, nearly seven in 10 online (68.93%) coupon users report that getting a coupon, deal or discount is “very influential” or “extremely influential” to their decision to make a purchase.

Millennials (74.54%) were more likely to report being influenced by getting a discount than members of other generations, while baby boomers (59.68%) reported being the least likely to be influenced by a discount.

Additionally, online coupon codes might be influencing shoppers to try new products. Most respondents (86.16%) said that they would be more likely to make a first-time purchase with a brand that is new to them if offered a coupon or discount. This held true for most age groups — with only baby boomers (78.78%) a little less likely to let a discount influence their decision to try a new brand.

Online coupon users focus on emails and search engines when looking for coupon codes

The most popular methods for finding online coupon codes were listed as emails/newsletters directly from retailers (65.17%) and the use of search engines (56.85%). However, among some American consumers, the use of browser extensions — like Honey, Cently and Wikibuy — are on the rise. Overall, slightly more than a quarter (26.88%) of online shoppers cite browser extensions as one of the ways they find online coupon codes.

However, breaking down the data by generation shows some interesting differences in couponing behavior:

  • About half (50.98%) of the respondents from Gen Z report using browser extensions in addition to utilizing search engines and emails.
  • For online coupon users in Gen Z, search engines (63.40%) were a more popular method of looking for discount codes than checking emails (60.13%).
  • Nearly four in 10 millennials (37.26%) use browser extensions as a major resource when hunting for coupon codes.
  • Millennials favor search engines (66.60%) only slightly more than using email (65.52%).
  • Among baby boomers (69.50%) and members of Gen X (62.33%), emails are the most popular way to receive online coupon codes.

Technology Is Evolving, and Younger Generations Are Taking Advantage

The study also shows that the older generation, the more reliant they are on emails for coupons. With about 70% of baby boomers saying they find coupons from emails, this drops to 60% for Gen Z coupon users. However, the younger the generation is, the more reliant they are on new technology like browser extensions. 51% of Gen Z coupon user surveyed leverage browser extensions, compared to just 12.5% of Baby Boomers who leverage the technology in their couponing usage.

The rising popularity of browser extension technology has begun to change the online shopping landscape, and can continue to do so especially as Gen Z begins to see an increase in disposable income.

American consumers are likely to hit the search button before completing a purchase

With the popularity of search engines among American online coupon users, it’s probably not much of a surprise to discover that most of them (70.18%) search for discount codes while on the cart or checkout page.

But what may not be as obvious is that six in 10 (59.94%) online shoppers search for coupon codes before they get to the shopping cart or checkout page.

Nearly eight in 10 (78.59%) millennials check for online coupon codes either “frequently,” “almost always” or “always” when on cart or checkout pages. Millennials are the most likely group to check for discounts before finishing a purchase.

Members of Gen X (75.07%) and Gen Z (73.86%) are also very likely to check for discount codes while on the shopping cart or checkout page, while only slightly more than half (53.58%) of baby boomers are likely to conduct a search for discounts on the point of making a purchase.

As for looking ahead of time, baby boomers are, again, the least likely to search for online coupons before getting to the cart or checkout page, with only a little more than half (55.71%) looking for discounts first.

The Millennial Generation Is A Deal-Savvy Generation

Below are a few key findings from the millennial generation, indicating just how important getting a discount is for them. Many on the older side grew up when Internet technology was just beginning its evolution, but discounting techniques have been around them all their lives.

  • 86% of millennial consumers responded they either "usually" or "always" search for a better deal before making a purchase. In fact, just over half (51%) of millennial consumers always search for one.

  • 71% of millennial consumers are influenced by getting a coupon, deal or discount when deciding to make a purchase.

  • 87% of millennial consumers are more likely to make a first-time purchase with a brand that is new to them if the brand offers them a coupon or discount

Online coupon users are generally satisfied with coupon sites — despite some frustrations

In general, online coupon users seem to understand that coupon sites won’t always have a valid coupon code for their purchase. Forty-three percent of online coupon users report that they find what they need only “sometimes.” Only about one-third (33.14%) of online coupon users “usually” or “almost always” find a valid code when using coupon websites.

However, this reality doesn’t lead to widespread dissatisfaction with coupon websites. About half (49%) of American coupon users are either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their overall experiences with coupon websites. Only 14% are dissatisfied, and only 2.5% are very dissatisfied.

Even though American consumers are generally satisfied with coupon websites, they still place the bulk of the blame on them when a code turns out to be invalid or expired. Almost two-thirds (63.33%) of online coupon users place the blame on the coupon websites, while only 18% blame the retailer or merchant.

One of the biggest frustrations, though, comes from searching for a retailer’s coupon code, landing on a coupon website and discovering that there aren’t specific codes available — only general promotions or sales. Nearly half (48.31%) report feeling annoyed, while about a quarter (24.48%) say they feel deceived when this happens.

How to save more with online coupon codes

More than half (51.11%) of our survey respondents reported that they expect to save at least $100 per year using online coupon-based discounts. If you want to make the most out of coupon codes, here are some tips that might help you boost your savings.

Use browser extensions to your advantage

Browser extensions aren’t widely used right now — except among Gen Z. However, browser extensions like Cently, which is offered by Coupon Follow, can help you get coupon codes automatically. Rather than having to remember to check your email or run a search, a browser extension can take care of it automatically.

Search for discount codes before you checkout

Most online coupon shoppers search for discount codes before finalizing a purchase. This strategy can work especially well if you’re making planned purchases. If it’s something you’d buy anyway, it can be worth a few extra seconds to search for discount codes and save a little bit.

Consider signing up for emails from retailers you frequent

While no one wants retailer emails overwhelming their inbox, you might have better luck with valid coupon codes when you get them directly for the source. With about 63% of online coupon users reporting that the codes they find on coupon websites working “sometimes” or “rarely,” it can make sense to target the retailers you frequent most and opt-in to receive promotions and discounts from them.


CouponFollow conducted a SurveyMonkey survey on August 22, 2019 and collected responses from 1,584 adults in the U.S. about their online discount and coupon code usage. The full survey was completed by 1,358 respondents who selected “Yes” to the survey question “In the past year, have you used, or attempted to use, an online coupon code?”

Generational groupings were formed based upon responses to age group: Gen Z was considered those 18 - 22, millennial was considered 23-38, Gen x was considered 39-53 and baby boomer was considered 54 or older.