Couponing enthusiasts, defined as consumers who buy over 188 items a year with coupons, are causing headaches for many retailers.  Extreme couponers can create bottlenecks in check-out lines, cause stock-outs, and create inventory and supply chain problems for many retailers, especially grocers.  While coupon redemption is relatively flat (3.3 billion redemptions in 2010 according to a recent Nielsen report), heavy couponing is on the rise.  In addition to increases in coupon enthusiasts, retailers are also noticing an increase in fraudulent coupons and coupon misuse.

Retailers are now responding to the increase in coupon usage by updating their current coupon policies.  Target is restating its policy so that customers do not combine two buy-one-get-one-free coupons to get both items for free.   Rite-Aid is putting restrictions on the number of coupons customers can use for a specific item.  Walgreens updated its current coupon policy to give management the right to limit the number of coupons consumers can use.

Coupons are a valuable part of many retailers’ customer service package and communications strategies.  Many retailers are trying to find the right balance of discouraging coupon abusers without alienating valuable, yet price-conscious, customers.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are retailers doing to discourage extreme couponing?
  2. What are some potential problems that retailers face with extreme coupons?  What potential problems can retailers face by discouraging coupons?
EJ Schultz, “Retailers Start to Suffer Super-Couponer Fatigue,”Advertising Age, July 11, 2011.