Save big with coupons in September
What: For more than 125 years, coupons have been helping consumers save money on everyday goods like groceries, cleaning supplies and medicine. The first coupon was distributed in 1886 by Asa Griggs Candler, who was owner of the Coca-Cola Company. He developed the coupon as a marketing technique, hiring traveling salesmen to pass out handwritten coupons for a free drink as a way to entice consumers to try the beverage. Today, couponing is still one of the biggest ways to save at the checkout. The TLC television show “Extreme Couponing” has shown consumers that using coupons at some retail stores can rack up major savings. Meanwhile, popular websites run by “extreme couponers” are hugely popular with shoppers. While not all shoppers go to extreme lengths to save, coupon redemption is on the rise, with more than 3.3 billion coupons on consumer packaged goods being used in 2010. In light of the coupon’s increased popularity, recognize National Coupon Month in September.
Background: National Coupon Month was started by the Promotion Marketing Association Educational Foundation Inc. in 1998 to educate consumers on the savings coupons offer. The month’s educational focus has increased since it began to include new coupon distribution methods, like printable online coupons, online coupon codes, local coupon deal websites, and “Catalina” coupons, which print on customers’ receipts. The month encourages shoppers to use coupons wisely, gaining additional savings by combining coupons with sales and taking time to plan shopping trips accordingly.
Story Pitch: Many businesses can use the month to not only promote their coupons, but educate customers on their coupon policies and offerings. Retailers that offer additional coupon savings, like store savings cards or printable coupons available through their company websites, can use this event to let customers know how to access and use these with manufacturer coupons and save more money. Additionally, stores can take this time to educate customers on their individual coupon policies, which can keep store-goers from being confused or frustrated when trying to shop. Coupons are available through many distribution points, including websites, newspapers, promotional booklets, stores, and even specialty magazines. These distributors can use the month to promote their offerings and let consumers know how to access these savings. Meanwhile, consumer groups can use this event to educate shoppers on how to best use coupons, including drawbacks. Charity groups can raise awareness of how the causes they support can benefit from couponers. Overseas military families can use expired coupons, while shelters and food banks often take excess stock from couponers as donations.
Story Hook: Methods like dumpster diving for coupon inserts, stealing newspapers, or clearing out store shelves in one shopping trip has prompted retailers to debate the benefits of using coupons as a marketing tool. Is offering coupons a good marketing technique? Do coupons entice most consumers into trying new brands, or cause them to only search out savings? How are retailers responding to this trend, and is it causing stress on their stock? Keep the following in mind as you make your pitch:
- What are the basics of using coupons? What are most stores’ policies on coupons?
- What kind of goods are consumers using coupons on? Where are most people finding their coupons?
- How is technology influencing coupon redemption?
- Is there a backlash to the couponing trend?
- What is the coupon industry like behind the scenes? How are coupons processed after they’re redeemed at a store?
Tips: To provide a look into how couponers stack and find coupons for big bargains, provide contact information for an “extreme couponer.” Someone who teaches a class on couponing is a good contact as well. Also provide contact information for a store manager or marketing professional who can talk about why brands develop coupons, as well as the drawbacks of the couponing trend.
Association of Coupon Professionals
American Marketing Association
National Grocers Association
Promotion Marketing Association Educational Foundation Inc.
National Coupon Month
–Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
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