Saturday, July 23, 2011

Has There Been a Decrease in Quality Coupons?

As many of us have heard, coupon usage has been on a steady climb since the economy took a nose-dive in 2008.  More people have turned to coupons as a way to save money and make their dollar go even further at the grocery store.  Shows like TLC's Extreme Couponing and sites like this one have shown people the extraordinary things that can be accomplished with coupons and a little planning.   But with all the hype surrounding coupons now-a-days, I am beginning to notice a trend in the coupons I have been seeing, and it isn't good news.

It seems like the manufacturers have realized that while there are some real professionals out there that know how to effectively use coupons to save 80% or more at the check out counter, a vast number of the people using coupons are just trying them for the first time and haven't yet learned how to coupon properly.  This has lead the manufacturers to put out coupons that aim more at increasing profits by exploiting consumers and tricking them into thinking that they are getting great savings, when actually they are buying more products at only a marginal discount.

If you have been looking at the coupons that have been coming in your Sunday inserts and the printable coupons appearing online you may have noticed a couple of things.  It seems like many coupons are for product off-shoots, new lines of products that have been marked up well beyond the cost of the original line (for example a coupon for Soft Soap Pampered Hands, but not for the original product).

I have also noticed that there has been a drastic increase in the number of coupons that require the purchase of multiple products, i.e. Save $1.00 off Two.  This may be for multiple reasons, $1.00 off Two is much better for the manufacturer's bottom dollar than two $0.50 off One coupons.  The consumer is required to purchase two of a product when they may have only wanted one, and it seems that manufacturers have learned that most groceries stores that double coupons only do so for coupons valued under $1.00, so by give you a $1.00 off Two instead of $0.50 off One they avoid sale/coupon combinations that would upset store profits.

Finally, expiration dates for coupons are continuing to get shorter and shorter.  This presents a big problem for extreme couponers, like myself, because part of the strategy behind extreme couponing requires you to hold onto coupons until a good store sale for that product becomes available. A shorter expiration date for a coupon means that their is a shorter window for there to be a store sale and a coupon that co-exist.

I may just be getting paranoid about the whole market for couponing, but it seems like these companies are trying to take advantage of consumers, yet again.  I am very interested in finding out what everyone thinks about this and whether you have been experiencing the same problems with the coupons in you area, so please comment on this post and let me know your opinions and observations.  Thanks!


Anonymous said...

Huge shortage of coupons,and good deals at local supermarkets.Shaws has dropped off in a big way with there sales.My parents,my boss's wife and cousins are huge couponers.I just started about 6 months ago not realizing the deals!!!I just wish I could figure out the Cat deals through shaws!!Ive heard of people leaving with money? How is this possible?

Amanda said...

I have noticed the shorter dates on coupons as well, this does not work to the manufacturer's advantage in my case because I will not use the coupon just because it is expiring. I would rather throw it away than buy something just to use the coupon. Since most things cycle around on sale, it would be better for the manufacturer's to put longer expiry dates, then the chances are better that it will get used. I just recently found your website, great job with the posts!

Anonymous said...

Ever since that so called show came out it seems that the trend is exactly what you say it is. I also notice the stores are changing their coupon policies and giving people a hard time about using them.