Couponers Gone Wild

Discussion
Apr 06, 2011
George Anderson

A new reality television series on TLC, Extreme Couponing,
follows individuals that go to extreme lengths to avoid spending money in grocery
stores. The question for retailers and brands is whether the show will be a
hit and inspire legions of new uber-couponers to clip away at companies’ profit
margins.

According to an Associated Press report, one person profiled
on the show used coupons to trim nearly $2,000 from a shopping list to $103.72
at the checkout. Another extreme coupon clipper reduced a grocery store bill
from more than $555 to around $6.

Amy Winter, general manager and executive
vice president at TLC, told the AP that
big things are expected with the new show. "It made this absolute connection
to our audience who wish they could save money like these people."

According
to the TLC website, 2.1 million viewers tuned in for the premiere episode of
the show which aired as an hour-long special in December. The series’ first
two half-hour shows will air this evening at 9:00 and 9:30. Future shows will
have the 9:30 p.m. time slot.

"You sort of have this feeling like they’re getting away with something,
but they’re not doing something wrong," Ms. Winter told the AP. "They’ve
figured out the system."

Discussion Questions: Do you expect Extreme Couponing to be a hit? Could it spur large numbers of consumers to become extreme couponers themselves? If yes, what could this mean for retailers and brands?

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18 Comments on "Couponers Gone Wild"


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Liz Crawford
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

Who doesn’t like to stick it to the man?! We seem to have a love-hate relationship with people who can really game the system. Given the popularity of other frugalistia shows, like Auction Kings, Pawn Kings, and so forth, I have to believe this will be a real hit. The premise should appeal to primary grocery shoppers and those who like the idea of refining their financial savvy. To me the question will be whether manufacturers will change the game.

Kevin Graff
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

I watched the show with my wife in complete awe! Based in Canada, we don’t come anywhere close to the level of couponing shown in the show. It was almost enough to make us pick up and move south. Will it make retailers and manufacturers change or pick up their game? Here in Canada, I hope so!

David Livingston
Guest
10 years 1 month ago
I don’t think it will be a hit. They show only extreme examples after people have spent a lot of time accumulating large amounts of free or high dollar coupons and then going to a store on double coupon days. The extreme examples are not something you can do every day or every week. People who work hard on this can sometimes exploit loopholes. That’s fine and dandy but it gets boring after awhile. I’ve done it myself, only to end up with a lot of products I don’t like or don’t need. They ended up at the local food pantry. One time I was in a store and saw some BOGO free manufacturer’s coupons for some cereal. I knew the store across the street was running a no limit in store BOGO promotion on the same cereal. So I just took a stack of about 300 coupons across the street and wiped out their inventory. I can’t eat 600 boxes of cereal I don’t like. Gave 99% of it away.
Bob Phibbs
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

What’s next? Spotlight on people who refill their printer cartridges? Couponers gone wild would seem to show how they really are not driving demand, simply opportunists. Is that a market you want to attract?

Max Goldberg
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

What a great idea for a show that is relevant to consumers in the current economic environment. Consumers will tune in for tips on how to save money, and if they regularly find those valuable nuggets of information, will become repeat viewers and refer their friends.

Ian Percy
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

Like most people, when I’m sent a free dinner coupon by my favorite restaurant because it’s my birthday, I’m going to use it. But does anyone else feel the sadness in all of this or is it just me?

We–and I mean WE–are creating a world of lack out of a world of abundance. Lack thinking and lack behavior. Being driven by “What can we get for free?” mindset is just such a doomed strategy. Would these coupon clippers ever offer their employers (if they have one) a ‘discount’ on their own pay? If they are being paid by the reality show did they offer a two segments for the price of one deal? Or is this a one-sided transaction?

Successful and constructive capitalism, and indeed the entire universe, is based on interdependency, alignment and synergy. Erode those principles and we’re doomed. Right now there’s a company offering a discount on bankruptcy proceedings.

Paul R. Schottmiller
Guest
Paul R. Schottmiller
10 years 1 month ago

I have not seen the show (yet). The premise sounds interesting (reality, get a lot for a little, game the system) but my first instinct is I don’t see how they are going to sustain interest over time. Clip lots of coupons and save lots of money on a grocery bill…got it…what else? Pawn shops, auctions, and even house shows add to the interest due to the products featured. Grocery doesn’t seem to have the same level of appeal.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
10 years 1 month ago
This show is both silly and fascinating. It will be heavily watched and short lived. If nothing else, it may show product managers at CPG companies how ineffectual coupons are for moving one’s business ahead profitably. Coupons are simply a very expensive price reduction. They work if the buyer is trying the product for the first time (and will continue to buy it if they like it) or if the buyer was intending to purchase a competing item. But, most redeemed coupons are a money loser for the marketers. If it isn’t an incremental sale it likely loses at the margin level. Why do they continue with such an inefficient tool? Coupons are not charged to the P&L at the margin level, but charged as a below-the-line marketing expense. Therefore, like advertising, it is not associated with unique sales of packages. Perhaps this show will have some marketers starting to ask simple questions about the efficiency of coupons. The key to success for a coupon promotion is to get visibility, awareness, displays and sales without… Read more »
Dan Berthiaume
Guest
Dan Berthiaume
10 years 1 month ago

I think it will be a hit, not because the premise sounds terribly interesting, but because the public loves anything “extreme” and right now, finding deals is a hot topic and couponing sites like Groupon are exploding in popularity. Considering how dull and mundane many other successful reality shows are, why can’t one about coupons do well?

Dan Frechtling
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

This is a topic that will create a devoted following, but not “extreme” viewership. TLC had a winner with the premiere, which at 2.1MM viewers nearly reached the level of their hit Cake Boss. Subsequent shows will settle in at lower levels as the curious move on and the fervent remain.

The trends point to a strong following. In 2010, for the third year in row, Kantar reported large gains in coupons: +7% for traditional coupons and +34% for digital coupons.

In 2011, improvements in the employment are offset by rising costs. Harris Interactive this week found 99% of adults were aware of food inflation and three-quarters professed to use more coupons the #1 response.

But the real media hubs for this content are not media networks. They’re coupon moms. Kathy Spencer’s “How to Shop For Free” was a breakout. Joanie Demer’s thekrazycouponlady.com has 300K unique visitors per month learning the art.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

Any obsessive personality traits seem to be a great premise for a reality TV show these days. Do most people like to hold a real, old-fashioned paper coupon in their hand to give to a cashier in order to get money off their transaction, sure. For the amount of time put into saving these coupons, I’m sure the participants in the show feel there is great ROI. Not certain the viewing audience will ultimately feel the same way. Also, is this topic truly THAT compelling to make the show last more than a season?

Warren Thayer
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

Flash in the pan. No long-term effect on the market. People who like to game the system rarely have a work ethic. All this requires a lot of work.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
10 years 1 month ago

1. So, people are going to sit around watching other people clip coupons. Fascinating. 2. These are exactly the types of people retailers do NOT want to attract. This show makes a great case for why retailers SHOULD have loyalty programs and offer their best deals only to their best, and most profitable customers.

Wade Makarus
Guest
Wade Makarus
10 years 1 month ago
I suspect it will be a hit. It’s very topical and shoppers are still looking for ways to save money. People will probably take away a few tips and tricks then apply them to their shopping regiment. The problem I see with this exploding trend is that it becomes harder and harder for manufacturers to build brand loyalty. CPGs are already competing with private label and now a major influence on purchase decisions is discounts and offers. I equate this trend to what we saw here in Canada when I worked in the beer business. As we put more and more freebees in cases i.e. branded T-shirts, key chains and hats, shoppers were making their decision based on who had the best item in case at that time. They still had their roster of beers on their consideration list but the final decision was made on the free item in case. An enormous amount of money was being spent on getting the best item in the case and it felt as though it was spiraling… Read more »
Craig Sundstrom
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

“Hit” would seem to be a very relative term: TLC–a misnomer if there ever was one–seems pleased with what sounds like a 1% (or so) share, so the threshold seems quite low. I admit I haven’t watched the show, and I don’t intend to: I don’t see it offering much in the way of long-term entertainment value, and even less in the way of education…save, perhaps, the lesson that people can easily save money by dropping their cable subscription.

Jerome Schindler
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

I am a “couponer” but not extreme. The chase reaches a point of diminishing returns. However, thanks to things like CVS Extra Bucks I have not paid much if anything for toothpaste, toothbrushes and dental floss in the past few years, and my Gillette Fusion razor costs have been about $1 a blade. I bought a Canon laser copier/printer for about $80 after $180 rebate and $50 printer trade in etc. and then a couple weeks later got another for $60 after $200 rebate etc. The replacement cartridge is significantly more than $60.

Shawn Harris
Guest
Shawn Harris
10 years 1 month ago

I personally believe that retailers need to stick to the maxim–“You earn loyalty through relevancy, not discounts,” and not feed into this. I certainly believe that some shoppers may find themselves inspired to coupon clip a bit more; my guess is that it won’t last, as I’m sure it’s not a trivial amount of work to reap +98% savings on a regular basis.

James Tenser
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

Add Extreme Couponing to the list of programming types in which we observe individuals perform acts of skill at a level we can only fantasize about. You know, like This Old House, Martha Stewart crafts, The Food Channel, Jackass and porn.

It will be popular with some; emulated by just a few.

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