Coupons Catch Customers But Retailers Must Be Cautious

CouponsRemember Mom studying the newspaper inserts each weekend, clipping and filing coupons for that week’s shopping trip? Mom’s dedicated clipping may have determined what was on the dinner table that week, but also provided a much appreciated source of savings for the household. Coupons can save consumers some serious cash. As NCH Marketing Services reveals, “Shoppers saved $3.7 billion with coupons in 2010, a $20 million increase from 2009.”  However, retailers want to be cautious not to give the store away.

Consumers like to receive products for FREE, and if that isn’t possible, they like to get them next to nothing. Stephen Denny, author and expert on strategic insight for SMBs, advises small businesses such as independent retailers to make it easier for customers to say YES. According to Denny this means changing the way you look at pricing, particularly in these economic times. Coupons are a simple and traditional way of enticing or marketing to your consumer, allowing you to count each clip of the scissors as a yes.  Such an approach seems to be highly adopted as “Marketers distributed 332 billion coupons for packaged goods in 2010, the largest quantity ever recorded in the U.S.,” according to NCH Marketing Services.

Retailers’ Concerns Surrounding Extreme Couponing

Many frugal shoppers, those dedicated to getting the most for their money, approach couponing as a hobby. Christie Harcastle, a coupon enthusiast sharing deals from Walgreens at, explains in an interview with The Palm Beach Post, “People are coming out of the woodwork trying to do this stuff. It is important you do some research, just like any other hobby. You would not decide to go water skiing and throw yourself out there.” Among those people coming out of the woodwork, and perhaps lacking coupon etiquette and hobbyist guidelines, include many of the coupon extremists of TLC’s newest TV reality show, Extreme Couponing. These televised bargain shoppers believe they have mastered the art of saving, as “They purchase $1,000 worth of groceries and pay a few dollars…[and] others boast of lifetime supplies of paper towels and toilet paper.” As an independent retailer, make sure your offers are effective but not misused by:

  • Limiting the list of accepted competitor’s coupons taken by your store
  • Limiting the purchase of your entire stock by a single coupon clipping customer
  • Limit the amount of coupons per transaction as it will tie up your checkout staff and turn away other customers