You don't have to be a couponer for very long before you start to notice certain…injustices.
For example, last week I talked to my sister-in-law on the phone. She mentioned a great BOGO deal on diapers. I eagerly checked my Sunday newspaper insert for the same…no coupon. And we only live three hours apart!
This is what is called a "regional coupon difference." They’re both irritating and oh-so-real, and this post will help you to better understand and cope with these differences.
Why regional coupons?
I can answer this in two words—”regional budgets.”
Brands may have different sales and new product promotion goals for different regional areas. Or a company may simply not have the budget to do a nationwide coupon campaign, so it picks out certain areas to target with the budget it has. Or it may offer a very high value coupon in an area where it’s trying to build market share, and a much lower value coupon in an area where it has strong market share. Or perhaps a manufacturer decides it can reach more potential customers by doing a bigger spend in certain key markets where the newspapers have a better circulation.
Whatever the reason, not all coupons are distributed equally, and this is not likely to change.
5 Effective coping options
Since regional coupon differences will likely never disappear, a smarter strategy is to develop your own coping options to snag similar deals as the ones you’re not getting locally via the newspaper.
1. Organize an online swap with out-of-town friends.
Let's say you have two close friends who both live out of town, and you each live a few hours apart from the other two. And let's say one of you really needs diaper coupons, the next one is always on the hunt for school supplies coupons, and the third one of you is heavy into coupons for baking ingredients.
So long as the coupons have no fine print regional restrictions (e.g., "Not valid for use in X") there’s nothing stopping you—other than time or postage costs—from swapping with each other to meet everyone's coupon needs.
2. Buy a bigger, better paper…or perhaps more than one different paper.
As I've traveled the country and the world, I've noticed that papers are distributed differently in different areas.
Here again, so long as the inserts do not bear fine print excluding shoppers in your area from redeeming them, you may just need to hunt around to find out where the biggest, best paper with the MOST coupon inserts is being sold locally.
Here in Texas where I live, I’ve heard about our local paper, the Houston Chronicle, being sold as far away as San Antonio (3 hours away) and Dallas (4.5 hours away). And our paper has lots of inserts!
Also, so long as there are no fine print regional use restrictions, you may consider ordering a subscription to the two largest city papers that are near to you just to get their coupon inserts.
3. Seek similar printables online direct from the manufacturers or the KCL coupon database.
While you may not be able to find that EXACT coupon deal your best friend told you about, you may be able to get close (or even go her one better) by searching online for coupons for that brand/size/etc. on the KCL coupon database and manufacturer websites.
One of the hands-down BEST coping strategies for regional coupon differences is not to let them stop you from finding the great deals you want. Just keep hunting, and it’s likely you’ll score a similar or even better bargain via another avenue.
4. Be aware that brand names may change from region to region.
Before you simply assume you didn't get that fab coupon deal for Edy's ice cream, take the time to find out if that brand is Dreyer's in your area.
Lots of manufacturers carry identical products that are branded differently in different areas, so you may find just the coupon you were looking for by searching the local brand name.
5. Buy the inserts online.
While KCL certainly doesn't advocate this as a first-choice option (especially when you start to add up weekly shipping costs!), it can make sense if you can go in with a couple of couponing friends AND you haven't located another viable free way to obtain the coupons you need.
If you DO plan to buy newspaper inserts, you want to be sure that you’re getting your money's worth. Be sure you know which day of the paper those inserts are coming from (and whether it’s a mid-week non-exclusive insert or the Sunday big exclusive insert).
Finally, do your best within the first couple weeks to verify that the coupons you’re receiving match the actual locally distributed newspaper inserts (you may need to connect with a couponing friend in that area, or look online for verification via the insert distributor).