The popularity of — and for many, the necessity in — couponing recently presented a unique “low-hanging fruit” opportunity for The Spokesman-Review, and likely for many other newspapers.

At least twice a week, The Spokesman-Review is fat with grocers’ coupons (Wednesdays) and manufacturers’ coupons (Sundays). Already, editorial lets readers know in a front-page note the dollar value of coupons in the Sunday paper. National television shows such as The Learning Channel’s “Extreme Couponing” series have caught the attention of people who want to save money in big or small ways. In Spokane, at least four groups serve the needs of area couponers with classes, blogs and helpful tips.

An audience hungry for deals? Advertisers eager to reach them?

Enter The Spokesman-Review’s CouponCliqueNW initiative, ready to be launched to the public on August 31.

The plan includes a print component in Wednesday’s paper, carrying the CouponCliqueNW branding. It will feature a portion of a syndicated “Content that Works” couponing column, snippets and artwork from four local coupon bloggers, and sold ad space. Its function is three-fold:

  • To provide useful, new content in the Wednesday newspaper;
  • To promote the digital component of the project,;
  • To remind Wednesday single-copy buyers that they’re missing out by not purchasing the Sunday newspaper as well.

On, the primary element will be a prominent blog, to be fed by the four local bloggers; reader comments and suggestions; constantly updated feeds, initially from two national coupon Web sites ( and; and the full text of the “Content that Works” coupon columns. Also on the site will be a purchased syndicated video package that complements the “Content that Works” print column, and sold digital ad space, both in traditional ad positions and in between every third blog post. The site will of course be optimised for mobile.

Finally, the circulation department has created a special rate for couponers (or anyone else) who wants to purchase additional Sunday newspapers for their own use or for use in the coupon classes they teach. A prominent space on the Web site will alert users to this special offer, and to the value of the Sunday newspaper overall for money-saving.

The project’s five key goals are as follows:

  1. Shore up Sunday newspaper subscriptions and Sunday single-copy sales.

  2. Provide new, inexpensive content that creates Web traffic, and an ad-friendly environment in print and online.

  3. Promote the value of the print and online newspaper in helping save money and shopping smarter.

  4. Gain (small) incremental revenue through links to and conversions from two national coupon Web sites.

  5. Create buzz for our grocery clients and cement already strong relationships with them.

No doubt any newspaper could introduce a similar programme easily and inexpensively, especially considering the following:

  • Coupon usage for household items like groceries is up 24% since since 2006. Shoppers find coupons primarily in the Sunday newspaper inserts (49%). (Scarborough Research)

  • Digital coupon users represent 12% of the U.S.’ 175 million Internet users. (ComScore Media)

  • General Mills calls digital coupons “a significant percentage of our spending. We get great results; it’s the perfect, self-targeting medium, and they’re available 24/7.”
  • In the first half of 2009, nearly 10 million digital coupons were redeemed, a 25% increase over the amount redeemed during the same period in 2008. (Inmar, a coupon processing company)

  • Since its release in April 2011, Coupon Sherpa, a smartphone coupon app, has been downloaded more than 65,000 times.

Given the unsteady economy, newspapers are in a good position to help customers shop smarter, save money and remain informed and engaged citizens. Create your own “clique” and watch the click-throughs take off!