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Coupon redemption has been on the decline every year—except for this one. As the mortgage crisis and high fuel prices press on their budgets, more and more consumers are looking for ways to save money. Coupons offer an easy way to save cash in the immediate term.

Coupons can push customers to try a new product that they otherwise would not have or reward them for purchasing in large quantities. In the modern economy, saving money is also a cool trend. All You magazine offers a new e-mailed newsletter with coupon previews for the next publication, all indexed for the customer’s convenience. Dedicated coupon Web sites make it easy to obtain discounts through the Internet. For example, shortcuts.com allows customers to download coupons onto frequent shopper cards.

Many companies also use coupons as a targeting tool, pushing coupons for products customers have bought in the past or that match the shopping baskets of other consumers who have bought similar products.  Coupons can expand a customer’s shopping baskets by targeting coupons using like shopping baskets from other customers.

Mobile coupons provide another convenient way for shoppers to take advantage of coupons. Arby’s, Caribou Coffee, and GameStop all use various distribution channels, so that their customers can clip paper coupons, receive them at the checkout terminal, or download them from online.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How are retailers creatively using coupons to increase sales?
  1. Are there any downsides to the expansion of coupon usage?

Stuart Elliott, “This Season’s Must-Have: The Humble Coupon,” The New York Times, December 4, 2008.