According to a poll conducted by RetailMeNot, the largest digital coupon website in the US, 92% of consumers surveyed are coupon users. And of those 92%, nearly half (43%) believe they're getting a good deal if they save 25% or less. “And therein lies the problem,” says Jessica Crowe of TheHappyCouponer.com. “Why are you settling for 25% when you could be saving 60, 70, 80 percent or more?”
Are you one of the 43 percent?
If you look at published coupon statistics they're all geared toward the manufacturers to show them the benefits of issuing coupons and how to get more for their advertising dollars.
“For example,” says Crowe, “the fact that 43% of consumers surveyed are happy with a savings of 25% or less suggests to manufacturers that the average shopper doesn't care how much they save, it's the idea of being able to say they saved that matters most. Wave a pretty 15-cents-off coupon under their nose and they're happy to buy whatever you're trying to sell.”
“And it works, too. The average coupon-user goes to the grocery store with maybe a dozen coupons in her pocket. Half are for items she regularly uses and she's happy she has a coupon so she can say she saved a few pennies. It makes her feel smart and frugal, like she's doing her part to help save the family budget.”
“The other half are for new, trendy items she probably would never have purchased if someone hadn't waved a coupon under her nose. These are items she doesn't really need or want but the fact that she has a manufacturer's coupon in her hand makes her think more about the money she's “saving” than the money she's actually spending.”
How the 43% Shops
If you're one of the 43%, then you need to understand that you're not really saving any money at all. Sure, you saved $5.65 on your groceries this week but you're still allowing the manufacturers to dictate what and when you purchase. With coupons, the manufacturers are influencing your shopping list, which means they're controlling your purse strings. Take a look at this scenario:
Mary's family consumes two boxes of Cheerios each week and Mary is one of the 43% who think it's wonderful when they save 25%. (Or less. Don't forget the less.)
Mary opens her Sunday paper and finds a coupon for 25 cents off one box of Cheerios and she's tickled to death. She thinks that instead of spending $2.89, she's going to save 25 cents this week and that makes her glow with pride.
Alongside that Cheerios coupon she sees another coupon for 50 cents off one box of Multigrain Cheerios, a product she's been thinking about trying because of its supposed nutritional benefits but it normally costs 20 cents more than regular Cheerios. But hey, here's a coupon that makes it even cheaper than the regular Cheerios. Now's the perfect time to try it.
Mary heads to her favorite grocery store and makes her purchases, redeems her coupons and pats herself on the back for saving 75 cents. But who really wins? The manufacturer, of course.
To Mary's family, cereal is cereal. Of course they'll eat the more expensive Multigrain Cheerios. It's food and they're hungry. This is good news to Mary because she's been trying to get her family to eat a healthier breakfast and now she's found a solution.
The only problem is, now Mary has to buy two boxes of a more expensive cereal every week. She saved 50 cents on that first purchase but it's going to cost her an additional $20.80 over the course of a year. Mary doesn't really notice that 50-cent increase because it's such a small amount, but this is just one item she's been tricked into buying this year. It's no wonder she can't save money at the grocery store.
It's Time to Switch Sides
If you're one of the 43% who are satisfied with saving 25% or less, then hooray for you, but the other 57% know how to shop and they're saving 75 or 80 percent every week. Wouldn't you rather be a member of the 57 Percent Club?
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Donna Anderson is one-half of The Happy Couponers duo. Together, she and her daughter, Jessica Crowe, hope to make the world a happier place for everybody who wants to save money on groceries. They share their coupon tips at The Happy Couponer blog and clipping service.