Couponing: A good fit for IMC?

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My name is Nicole and I’m a not-so-extreme couponer. Over the past six months, when I decided to subscribe to my local newspaper, I discovered my love of coupons, and saving money in general.

I paid $28 for the six-month subscription and my goal was to save $28 in coupons over the six month period. Turns out, I’ve probably tripled that amount through coupons for groceries, restaurants, dry cleaning, hair salons, etc. Living by myself, this is a huge savings!

C'mon, can anyone really resist the Snuggle Bear?

What I also learned through my passion for coupons is that I’m not as brand loyal as I thought. If it comes to saving a dollar, or even 50 cents, on a product, I’m willing to try something new. Of course, I’m still brand loyal to a few specific products, including Snuggle fabric softener.

I think coupons are important for IMC. In fact, a while back, I found a free rebate coupon for Lysol disinfecting wipes. I had been using another brand, but figured if it was free, I might as well try Lysol. Turns out, they’re great and without the coupon, the item would have blended into my store shelves. 

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One Response to “Couponing: A good fit for IMC?”

  1. Jerome A Brown Says:

    I too am a coupon clipper be it an inconsistent one. It leads me to question my reasons for pickling one product or brand over another. Was it what mom always bought? Did a stray store brand make its way into my cart one day and now I always buy it? Why are we blind to some products without a carrot being dangled in front of us? Is a product’s only hope for recognition dependent on the manufacture attaching a substantial coupon? Sometimes. The human creature is one of habit and comfort. Most of us don’t like risk and find change very difficult so it takes a compelling offer to get our attention and make us modify our purchasing habits (even if it has been on the market for a while and boasts softer clothes and fresher scents).

    Of course coupons are not the only way. Some brands spend copious amounts of time and money to provide samples to possible buyers in stores and other target audience environments. For example, I like to have granola bars as a mid-ride snack while on my bike. One day I was on a local trail and a person was standing to the side of the trail handing out Clif Bars (www.clifbar.com). Being a creature of habit and not usually attracted to free sample stands I said no thanks and just rode by. However the next time around the trail loop, she was still there handing out bars to fellow trail riders. She started to jog up to me and said “I knew you would be back around…sure you don’t want to try one?” I thought to myself ‘go ahead and try it…you are kind of hungry’ and took the offered bar. It was GREAT! Not a typical granola bar at all. It was crunchy, very flavorful and it even smelled like fresh peanuts. I can now highly recommend the Crunch Peanut Butter Clif bar. Fair warning, these bars are more expensive than many bars but they are organic and as I said, taste great.

    The ‘free sample’ could be considered the ultimate ‘coupon tactic’ especially when provided in the area where the product can be consumed or used immediately. Could I have taken my free bar and never looked back? Sure. But the company is betting that I will like the product so much that I will be willing to change my buying habit and even pay a little more to get a superior product next time I go to the store. It worked. Now I buy them all the time and without a coupon.

    The real question of ‘Would I have bought them in a retail location if they were offered with a coupon?’ of course needs to be addressed. My answer… probably not. Price would have overcome my desire to try something new I think. It goes back to the ‘humans don’t like change’ argument. It took someone calling me out…someone prodding me to give them a try. With a little encouragement, I was hooked. My resistance to change was overridden by my hunger and the ease of trying something new. I was successfully moved to change brands.

    I think coupons will always have a place in the market in some form or another. As marketers it rests on our creative shoulders to develop new ways of attracting an audience and hooking them into trying the new product. We don’t even need to print coupons anymore putting people’s fingers at risk of painful paper cuts or blisters from scissor handles. Technology is our friend if a coupon is a necessity. Technological solutions allow for very diverse delivery systems. Online coupon clubs, QR codes linked to special offers, regional offerings, GPS linked specials, and targeted offers through online search integrations, on and on the options go. Coupons are certainly a tried and true method of attracting attention and getting some new, sometimes only temporary, changes in buying habits. Go for the gold coupon clippers and don’t be afraid of trying something new. Sometimes it works out great and others…well at least you got the product for a discount.

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