Is coupon clipping worth the effort?
Generally speaking, old fashioned coupon clipping probably is not worth the time and energy it takes to organize everything, but things have changed today. The rise of relationship marketing – whereby advertising revenue is spent on developing customer loyalty as opposed to mass advertising – and the Internet have radically changed the picture.
Using simple computer programs, such as Microsoft Excel, has also made organizing your money saving campaign much easier. In fact, many people save thousands of dollars a year by taking full advantage of the offers made by manufacturers and retailers combined.
Basic coupons are offered by either the manufacturer or retailer of a given product to provide an incentive to buy that product. Usually a coupon either takes a certain amount off the retail price at the point of purchase or allows you to get a second item for free or at half the price.
There are other types of coupons, but these are the most popular and common. Coupons regularly arrive in the mail, are frequently found in newspapers and magazines, or come with the purchase of a product. Today many coupons can also be found online and printed off for use at your local retail store as well.
Many rebates also work like coupons, though you may have to mail in the rebate certificate to the manufacturer for redemption. Other rebates can be claimed at the point of purchase. It really depends on the rebate itself as well as the store’s policies.
The basic idea is part of the relationship marketing efforts of the company producing the product; instead of spending the rebate dollars on mass advertising, they give these dollars to people who have already purchased their product as an incentive to buy it again. The technique does work for the manufacturers, but it can also help the savvy strategic shopper as well.
It is not just manufacturers that have adopted relationship marketing, retailers have as well. Many major retail chains have incentive programs based on some sort of points system that can then be redeemed for cash or other awards.
Again, the idea is to spend advertising and promotional revenue to encourage existing customers to come back as opposed to trying to attract new customers through mass advertising. Joining these incentive programs and being sure to get credit for all of your purchases is an integral part of the strategic shopping program.
Putting selected items on sale has always been a popular and effective means of getting people to visit a store and to purchase products that the store wants or needs to move. Even people who do not bother with strategic shopping ideas will frequently respond to a good sale.
Now that most retail outlets use UPC codes for pricing, including sale prices, the old clause of being unable to use a coupon on a sale item has largely faded away. This means a strategic shopper with a coupon can apply it to an item that is also on sale. This same item may also include a rebate or additional incentive.
Although the savings from each shopping trip may only amount to a few dollars, when all of the incentives are combined together and viewed over a reasonable period of time, the savings can be astounding. Some of the more aggressive strategic shoppers save as much as $5,000 or more each year. Further, many people have caught on to the idea, so there are many web sites and online discussion forums that provide useful tips and advice for successful strategic shopping.