Discount coupons have been around for ages; they have continued to evolve over the last hundred years. Coupon clipping is a marketing gimmick of issuing goods for less than market value to build enthusiastic consumer base. This practice is based on consumer psychology. The fact is marketers don’t mind giving away a free product in exchange for bigger sales. A detailed survey of those early coupon pioneers reveals that Coca Cola was among the first to offer free goods! In 1887 Coca Cola started offering slips for complimentary Coke and provided the vendors with free syrup to compensate. And that strategy worked wonders for the company. A mere seven years later, every state in the U.S. was offering Coke. As the leading soft drink provider around the world today, the Coke symbol is the most globally recognized symbol across all cultures and languages. A few free drinks proved to pay off.

The practice of finding discounts on consumer goods such as groceries, cosmetics, tooth paste, shampoo, services at beauty parlour, pathology lab etc is called coupon clipping. One presents pieces of paper called coupons to receive the discount. The coupons are cut out from the news papers or periodicals and magazines.

The average coupon-clipping consumer, who tears or clips coupons out of their weekly newspaper insert, may be perfectly satisfied with saving a few bucks on their groceries. But, there are many who grow so obsessed, that they go on collecting more and more coupons from their friends, neighbours to stack their favourite detergent, shampoo or some other good for a month or year. Coupon clipping service providers can provide tens and hundreds of a particular coupon to an individual.

Extreme Couponing is a scripted American reality television entertainment series produced by Sharp Entertainment and aired on cable network TLC in the United States and Canada. The viewers of the show are engaged in an activity that combines shopping skills with couponing in an attempt to save as much money as possible while accumulating maximum groceries. The concept of “extreme couponers” was first mentioned in The Wall Street Journal on March 8, 2010 in an article entitled “Hard Times Turn Coupon Clipping into the Newest Extreme Sport”.  TLC’s Extreme Couponing viewers are shoppers who make extensive and focused use of coupons to save money while accumulating large quantities of goods. It was previewed in December 2010; after surpassing network expectations with more than 2 million viewers, it received a series order and began regular airings in April 2011. On June 6, 2011, TLC announced it ordered a second season of Extreme Couponing. It premiered on Wednesday, September 28, 2011. The third season debuted on May 28, 2012. On November 20, 2015, the show returned to Discovery Family, a sister network to TLC, and was renamed Greatest Givers.

India was for a long time shielded from the coupon culture but that is now changing as the retail sector seeks to expand and wring out more from the well-heeled young Indian consumer. Dominos pizza has been doling out numerous coupons. And, the online shoppers are not far behind: But recently, online stores such as Flipkart.com, Amazon.in, Snapdeal.com, Jabong.com, Homeshop18 and Infibeam.com and Firstcry .com are following that trend more aggressively.

If you wonder that the manufacturers lose money when people use coupons, the answer is NO they do not. Manufacturers indeed reimburse stores for each coupon that shoppers use. However, coupons are part of their larger sales plans. About 94 percent of all coupons are thrown in the trash. The retailer or the manufacturer does not lose a dime when you use coupons. In fact, they make more money when you use coupons to save. The manufacturer reimburses retailer the face value of the used coupon plus some percentage of handling fee.

The store gets back the coupon’s entire worth plus it receives from the product manufacturer a payment of some percent per coupon redeemed. As I mentioned discount coupons is a marketing strategy; manufacturers offer coupons that will many times give shoppers their items for free. Manufacturers want shoppers to try their products. The coupons entice consumers to try a brand at discounted rate. Pizzas, drinks, ice creams, juices, spices, cosmetics are some products which have become big brands because of coupons. Once the consumers like those products, they get so used to the brands that they cannot live without them. And, consumers continue to buy it on numerous occasions in future. Because of coupons manufacturers are able to build brand loyalty and product awareness.

So, coupons are part of the manufacturer’s larger business plans. Manufacturers spend millions to establish a new brand or continue cementing loyalty with their older consumers. They often need to make shoppers aware of varieties of existing products or seasonal items, and they’re willing to pay a certain amount of money in the form of coupons as part of these important marketing strategies. Of the hundreds of thousands of coupon inserts that arrive in newspapers each week all over the country, the number of coupons that are actually cut out and redeemed at the stores by shoppers is around 6 percent. That’s it. About 94 percent of all coupons are thrown in the trash.

On the flipside: coupon clipping encourages frivolous spending. Many times, customers end up buying something because they have a coupon, and not because they need it. Coupons create an illusion of a bargain. Sometimes, just shopping around a little more and comparing prices between brands and between stores can get you a good deal. A coupon-discounted purchase of one brand or store may still be more expensive than a full retail price of another. And, most importantly, couponing becomes an addiction. The famous TV program in US Extreme Couponing showed how consumers spent up to 70 hours a week cutting coupons; isn’t it a waste of precious time?

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