Jil Cataldo: The E-Coupon Debate Revisited
Recently, I shared an email from a reader who believes there is a conspiracy going on with electronic coupons. My reader feels that companies offering coupons online and via phone apps are deliberately excluding discounts from the people who need them the most.
I offered some budget-friendly tips for ways to access coupons online, including visiting a public library and using a free computer terminal to load e-coupons to a storeís loyalty card or print coupons.
The column generated lots of feedback. Many readers chimed in to support the idea of using free Internet access at the library. Others offered criticism. Hereís a sampling:
Q: If people canít afford Internet and donít have a computer, they probably also donít have time or gas to go to the library all the time. These big companies need to figure out how to get these people their e-coupons!
Q: I do not understand how you can state that companies are not intentionally leaving behind a certain segment of the population using this delivery method. Companies ought to be providing coupon access in all formats to accommodate all levels of society.
A: Everyone needs to think about why companies offer coupons in the first place. Manufacturers do not create coupon campaigns for the sole purpose of helping people save money. They create coupons to encourage shoppers to buy a specific product or shop at a specific retailer. Itís through knowledge, strategic shopping and using coupons at the best possible times that we reduce our weekly grocery bills.
While companies are embracing new technologies to deliver coupons, they still use the traditional methods, too. Coupons are still found in the newspaper, in direct mail and in stores. But itís impossible to insist that companies not offer discounts via new media when so many people are utilizing it. The Internet age has permanently changed the way people communicate and receive information.
Companies simply are not going to ignore the Internet as a medium to deliver coupon offers. But that doesnít mean theyíre eliminating paper coupons! And, while e-coupon offers continue to grow, traditional paper coupons still dominate. A 2012 Kantar Media study notes that 74 percent of coupons issued came out the old-fashioned way: newspaper inserts.
Email Jill Cataldo with your own couponing victories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.