Will Extreme Couponing Ruin Coupons?
Posted on Thursday, May 12th, 2011 at 6:20 am
The TLC show Extreme Couponing has certainly brought using grocery coupons to the attention of the nation, if not the world. What was once the practice of a few families trying to greatly reduce their food budget has turned into a widespread trend, using hundreds of coupons to get as much stuff for free at the store as possible.
By combining or stacking coupons with sales, extreme couponers can walk away with several carts full of food and health and beauty products that they don’t pay for. “My goal isn’t to save money. My goal is to get everything free,” one recent extreme couponer said.
We love using coupons, and we love getting great deals. When shoppers can score something like $150 worth of groceries for less than $10, they jump for joy. Extreme couponing takes a lot of work, but when everything falls into place, it is a great feeling, knowing that you saved a lot on your grocery bill.
It is nice that so many people are now getting started with coupons and learning how grocery coupons and manufacturer coupons can really save money. This show comes at the right time for many people who are struggling with their budgets. But, there may be another consequence of the extreme couponing show. It isn’t just the shoppers like us who are paying attention.
Grocery stores and food manufacturers are also taking a good look at the show. They are learning all about the practices of the extreme couponers, how they use coupons and how they get the savings that they do. They are even learning how flaws in the cash register systems allow loopholes that net shoppers savings, even if those savings were never the intention of the store or the company issuing the coupon.
The result of this is that we are starting to see many changes in store coupon policies and more “do not double” coupons. It seems as though there is a new announcement of a change every week, as stores and manufacturers struggle to close up any gaps that may be costing them a lot of money. The stores want to limit coupon abuse of course, but they also want to avoid having to excessively pay shoppers to shop at their stores.
Coupons are usually issued to encourage shoppers to try a new product, or repurchase a product. After about three to five purchases, most shoppers will start to add that product to their mental favorite brand list. They are then more likely to always buy that brand even if they don’t have a coupon.
Extreme couponers change things when they come into the store and use those coupons to buy twenty to 100 of the product, getting it all for free. Both the store and the manufacturer wind up losing money.
The store spends time and money stocking the shelves that are then emptied by one shopper. This leaves no stock for other shoppers who might have bought the product at full price or tried the product with a coupon and become loyal to the brand.
The manufacturer has to reimburse the store for all of the coupons, but they didn’t get the product into the hands of 100 different people, just one shopper, so the manufacturer loses money. The store may also lose money by doubling the coupons.
Stores offer double coupons in order to get customers in the door, with the hopes that they will buy other products to make up for the loss in the double coupons. But extreme couponers never seem to buy any other products than those they can get for free or almost free.
Because of these realities, we may see even more changes down the road that will make it harder to use coupons for extreme savings. I don’t think couponers are going away anytime soon, but we may start to have to use them differently. When stores and manufacturers see that shoppers can stock up on a year’s worth of products for free they start to rethink their promotions and offers.
What do you think?