Coupons most definitely change what people buy. I work for one of the Walgreens stores in northern Minnesota and I have seen many people drive up to an hour to use a coupon on things they have notably told me they “didn’t really need”. That being said, I would have to answer this question by saying yes. Coupons are used by stores and manufacturers to draw attention to products and make people believe that if they buy it now they can save money on it. I can also testify that there are a good chunk of people out there that will buy products not because they need them or want them, but because it is on sale or they can get a good deal on it. Combining those habits with coupons that are usually more advertising than savings can make peoples decisions about buying things change drastically. I know I have fallen victim to that scenario many times.
These influences can also be good for consumers too though. From my work I have seen many store based coupons that change the price of a product significantly. For example, if someone goes shopping to buy soup, and there is a store coupon for a specific brand that saves them money compared to buying another brand, most people will use the coupon. That directly altered their decision on what to buy, and possibly where to shop. I have seen that to be the reason for many people shopping at my work.
Another good example is that I have also seen coupons that give an amount off the whole purchase if the purchase totals to a certain amount. I have had people buy a lot of things they didn’t intend on buying just to get to that total. I have received many from places like Officemax and Office Depot. While these coupons aren’t always a bad thing and can actually help people save money on things they do need, it is also pushing people to make decisions like buying things they don’t need in order to use a coupon or not buying anything at all because they don’t meet the coupon requirements. All of these are scenarios I have personally seen as part of my two year run with retail. I do have to mention though, that there are people out there who do not let their decisions to be swayed by coupons. I congratulate those people. They are the ones who are aware of the allure that comes with coupons. They usually know that they don’t need certain things and therefore they will not buy them, even if they are on sale or have a coupon.
As far as my personal sway goes for coupons, I can’t say they alter my decisions. I was trained on how they work and what their purpose is and I do not want to be someone who buys a bunch of stuff that is useless to me just because it had a coupon. I do however use coupons on the things I need. With that I will also substitute in a different brand than what I normally use as well. On average if I shop smart and use the available coupons I can save about $135 per month on groceries and other products. This is helpful when you are a low income household. It is almost necessary in this day and age. I do believe though that no one should spend too much time getting coupons. The idea of “extreme couponing” can truly save you a lot of hard earned money, but the time you spend finding them, collecting them, and sitting at the counter using them can never be returned. Is your time worth saving a little on everyday things? I have found my limit for that and am happy with how it works out. Overall, coupons do change some of mine and other people’s decision about purchases. I only hope that we can all be smart about our purchases and not be wasteful with it.
A note from us at I’m In: We offer lots of ways for you to save on groceries at I’m In!