UK internet searches for discount vouchers have increased by 47.5% over the last 12 months, Hitwise has reported, following an analysis of searches for a portfolio of more than 4,500 voucher-related search terms.
And, says Hitwise, both consumers and retailers have become more sophisticated in their use of vouchers over the last year. "Vouchers offering everything from discounts at high end retailers to 2-for-1 pizzas have become immensely popular in UK as British consumers look for the best deals to save money during the recession," comments Robin Goad, director of research for Hitwise in the UK.
"Discount vouchers really hit the mainstream in the run up to last Christmas, but since then the market has matured and consumers have become increasingly sophisticated in their search for and use of all kinds of discounts," he added. "We are seeing the emergence of the 'maximising consumer'; these shoppers don't necessarily buy the cheapest products or services, but they do spend a lot of time researching online before selecting what to buy, and then a bit more time to find the best price or discounts before making a purchase."
The growth in voucher searches over the last twelve months has come from people searching for ever more specific deals and discounts for particular products or retailers, says Hitwise — internet searches for generic terms such as 'voucher' or 'discount vouchers' have actually decreased or remained flat.
During July 2008, UK internet users searched for a total of 8,300 distinct variations of search terms that contained either the word 'voucher' or 'vouchers'. By July 2009, this figure had more than quadrupled to 34,200.
Traffic to specialist voucher sites has also decreased by 5.0%, despite the 47.5% increase in voucher searches. "Although the popular voucher websites remain significant players online, they no longer dominate the market," says Goad.
"There are two reasons for this. The first is that consumers have become wary of the more opportunistic voucher websites, which appear high up in the search engine results for voucher related terms but often contain out of date deals — or in some cases no relevant vouchers at all. The other change is that the retailers themselves — both online only and high street players — are trying harder to pick up traffic from voucher searches directly, rather than pay for a link from a voucher website. Online retailers only picked up 28.2% of all UK internet traffic from voucher searches during July 2008, but by 2009 that figure had increased to 41.5%."