Shoppers who couldn't be bothered with grocery coupons learned to embrace them during the recession. The worse the economy got, the greater the number of people of both genders who brought their stacks to the checkout line.
Although more men clip today than in the past, guys appear less likely than women to go to the trouble on a regular basis. In a 2011 survey conducted for coupons.com, 59 percent of men said they had used some sort of coupon (newspaper, direct-mail, downloadable or on a smartphone) compared with 78 percent for women.
"Men don't seem as willing to do the detail work you need for coupons, 'Does this coupon match that product?' " said Carrie Rocha. Her website, www.pocketyourdollars.com, promotes frugality, and the section devoted to couponing is the most popular. She gets about a thousand comments a week, but very few come from men.
Rocha thinks men come to couponing with a different motivation than women.
"Women are emotional. They say, 'I want to save money to help my family,' " she said. "For men, it's a game and they will play to win. When guys get caught up, I see a zeal that I don't see in women. Coupons trigger something in the male competitive drive — it becomes man versus grocery store."
Rocha said that drive can be dangerous, because playing to win can prompt the purchase of an item that never would have gone into the cart without the coupon.
"You have to stay focused on what you're spending, not what you're saving," she said. "Men can feel like they're winning when they're really losing."
There is one area in which men's coupon use outpaces women's: smartphones. A 2012 Coupon Cabin survey reports that 30 percent of men between ages 18 and 34 have a coupon app on their digital device, twice the number of women in the same age bracket.
It seems that guys do like their gadgets.