Coupons are making a comeback, thanks to Americans trying to find ways to deal with the economic downturn. According to NCH Marketing Services’ 2012 coupon facts survey, we redeemed $4.6 billion worth last year, a 59 percent increase from five years ago.

But what do we use them for most?

The top 10 most popular categories for coupon redemption in 2011 were:

1. Hair care
2. Eye care treatment
3. Candy and gum
4. Cosmetics
5. Butter and margarine
6. Sanitary protection
7. First aid
8. Vitamins and supplements
9. Shaving
10. Dried fruit

Paper coupons (especially those found in inserts) were still the most frequently used, but digital coupons are on the rise, says Charles Brown, vice president of marketing at NCH Marketing Services.

“Digital coupons are expected to continue to grow,” he said, “but marketers will need to use a mix of coupon distribution media to reach their complete audience and have the most successful results from their coupon promotions.” His advice for retailers is to “look at what is occurring in your segment, sector and category to devise the best coupon promotional marketing strategy for your brand.”

[LiveScience]