I’ve been reading many opinions about how couponing in the limelight is going to ruin and burst everybody’s happy bubbles and I wanted to address the issue and ask for your input! The conversation has picked up steam since TLC’s Extreme Couponing aired and continued with Fox & Friends news show, last week. I’m sharing some reader comments from a recent post. I thank each of these readers for sharing their opinions in a respectful manner.
Chad, “. . . I am Hating all this publicity on couponing lately.”
Sheryl, “. . . I Agree, makes you wonder with all the coverage couponing is getting now, are the stores going to make it harder on the average couponer to use them and create restrictions, limitations, etc.”
Tiffany, “. . . I don't like it either. Its been happening more and more. I don't think any of the bloggers really care about keeping this little treasure to ourselves, telling friends and neighbors, family members so it doesn't blow up into this gigantic craze. Its spreading too fast. I know the news shows seem exciting and you want to share this secret with everyone you know, but its not going to end well. I'm telling you, my Safeway has already sort of "caught on" to this couponing stuff and are trying to tell shoppers that coupons are costing them money. Now, I know this isn't true, but all this publicity is making it into a craze. You know that manufacturers count on that 1% coupon usage, because that's what they can afford. If it starts shooting up say even just at 30% coupons are going to be severely affected. . .”
Michelle, “. . . I think you're looking at it the wrong way. Once manufacturers know there are a lot of couponers out there, stores and manufacturers will be more competive with their coupons and marketing. The down side is that the shelves may start to clear faster, but spread the love, we're all just trying to save a little money.”
Debbie, “There are so many good deals to be had. You get some and you miss some. About 1/4 of the people I talk to even care about coupons and no one is nearly as dedicated as I am. I think actually the opposite would happen. If companies knew that people looked at coupons and used them…more would use them to promote their product. Just my thought. I mean they have been around FOREVER, and I don't think they are going anywhere. Shoot Walmart and Aldi's cut milk prices and loose money just to compete. I do think we will see more and more internet coupons with limited prints though.”
My (rather strong) opinion:
This information on how to use coupons will HELP people. It can positively change lives as it has mine! A little history about me: My husband and I always worked hard to stay out of debt. About 3 months after I started couponing, my husband unexpectedly lost his job (and with it our health insurance), we sold our home, and my daughter was rushed by ambulance to the hospital where she recovered for nearly a week. All our best intentions to live debt-free went out the window. Over the next 3-4 months, my husband was away at boot camp and I fed my children off our stockpile. We gratefully were able to live with family so nearly 100% of our income was able to go toward our hospital bills and I spent almost nothing on food for those months! Ever since this time, I’ve vowed to keep my stockpile and teach others about how they can create this safety net for themselves by using coupons!
It’s only a natural human reaction to want to keep a good thing hidden for yourself. If you found a secret way to predict lottery winning-numbers, maybe you wouldn’t start a blog about your strategy :). I didn’t invent couponing! I learned from someone as did most of you! I’m grateful for my friend, Heather, dragging me to the store with her and I’m grateful for her crazy aunt who kept bragging about her deals and motivated us to try! It wouldn’t be right for me to say, “tell me how to save money, but then don’t tell anyone else”.
We hear complaints when shelves are empty. But, we also hear complaints when coupons or store ads place limits on quantity. Bottom line, if you want to get the best deals at the drugstore, shop early. If you’re worried about a shelf being empty at your grocery store, ask your store manager to place a special order just for you! Let them know how much you want to buy and they will have it ordered into the store. Stores (often excluding drugstores) want to have appropriate inventory for shoppers; maybe if couponing becomes more mainstream, store managers will take notice and order more product.
Coupon redemption will NEVER shoot as high as 30%, in my opinion. There will always be too many people who won’t even consider using coupons, even for a second, because they immediately assume they don’t have time. I will be happily surprised if redemption ever hits 5%.
Now, regarding manufacturers or stores cracking down on shoppers as a result of couponing in the media, news shows, talk shows, etc. Manufacturers and companies like Smartsource, coupons.com do NOT get their information on coupon redemption by watching the news!!!!! This perception, that nobody knew about couponers before TV, is being expressed by so many, but is totally incorrect. These companies all have detailed statistics on how their coupons are redeemed. Their press releases have made it evident that they know that a large # of coupons are being redeemed by a small number of people (that’s all of us) and they are looking for ways to market TO US! We are buying MORE of their products and they are happy about it!
While the recession drove heavier coupon usage across low to heavy coupon users from 2008 into 2009, all but the heaviest coupon user group experienced negative total unit growth (with and without a coupon). All told, 83% of units purchased with manufacturer coupons in 2009 were done so by just 22% of households. Coupon enthusiasts—the heaviest users—accounted for 65% of manufacturer coupon unit purchases and 18% of all unit purchases in 2009. They drove a disproportionate amount of sales and sales growth—shopping more frequently, making 1.7 more trips than non-users and buying more (a rate 1.8 times greater annually). While some might think that "crazed coupon clippers" are only interested in a good deal, these findings suggests real benefits to manufacturers and retailers deploying coupons in their marketing mix. Source: Nielson Report April 2010
True that P&G has limited coupons to 4 identical coupons per transaction, but I haven’t even found this to be a big deal, for me. So what if I can only buy 4 deodorants at a time? The rules of couponing have always and will always continue to change. Savvy shoppers have always and will always maximize the savings within the rules! My opinion summed up:
(1) Manufacturers know about the super-heavy coupon users and our shopping habits already and they are seeing “real benefits”.
(2) Learning a skill that positively affects your life and wanting to keep that a secret is not a good attitude.
So, that’s my soapbox moment. I’m ready to listen to your feedback. Again, keep it respectful in tone and you can disagree or agree as strongly as you like!