Debate: Are Paper Coupons History?
Can you envision it? There’s a room in a church hall basement with a group of people sitting on metal folding chairs and the smell of too-weak coffee filling the air. From among the ranks, a sole figures stands, albeit a little unsteady, to speak. Hi, my name is (fill in the blank) and I’m (a hesitation) a coupon clipper.
Okay, so maybe there will never be a Coupon Clippers Anonymous, but there is no doubt that there are consumers in the U.S. that have made coupon clipping a required exercise before every shopping trip.
Kristine Davis, who lives with her family of four in Marietta, Ga., is among those who wear their coupon-clipping badge proudly. “It makes me feel terrible when I go to the store and don’t have a coupon,” she told The New York Times. “It’s a way of life.”
Ms. Davis clips coupons to save money. She estimates she can cut her monthly grocery bill by up to 40 percent by sitting down with newspaper and scissors in hand.
While Ms. Davis is a devotee of coupon clipping, the reality is that the overwhelming majority of coupons (99 percent is the estimate) go direct to the recycling bin or trash.
Many see the internet as a means to distribute coupons more efficiently to consumers while holding out the promise that redemption rates may go up, as well.
“The paper coupon is the single most inefficient marketing tool you could imagine,” said Peter Sealey, a former chief marketing officer at Coca-Cola. “The traditional paper coupon is going to die. It can’t survive in the Internet world.”
Charles Brown, co-chairman of the Coupon Council, believes it is way too early to be signaling the end of paper coupons. “Coupons are an ingrained part of the nation’s shopping culture,” he said.
Discussion Questions: Is the traditional paper coupon going to die? What will the future of coupons hold for consumer goods marketers and retailers?