With increases in living costs across the nation, new ways of saving at different expenses in life have emerged; fuel efficient cars became more popular, energy efficient appliances and lights are the favorites and “savings” has become a key word in advertisements for many goods and services. One popular method of coping with a more expensive living is to use designated discounts known as coupons. With recent technology revolution these have become increasingly available and cover a wider range of services and products. There are also centralized sources to aces an extensive range of discount coupons such as Groupon or Buyotopia. Therefore as a general trend the use of coupons has increased significantly mainly due to its increased availability and a more urgent need to save money in the current economic situation. Moreover the coupon has influenced the trends in purchasing goods and also where people choose to shop. Nevertheless several events also have led to hesitations in using coupons such as their accuracy or terms of use.

The factors which make a coupon more favorable are not necessarily positive. For example if there is a considerable amount of discount on a particular type of juice, it is likely that the majority of costumers pick the product even though it was not the healthiest or tastiest choice, thus purely for economic reasons savings offered by a coupon can influence the choice of product even though it is not the most desirable one. On the other hand many of the coupons are now “targeted”, so that the coupons are sent exclusively products which an individual prefers. This way the issuer of coupons can ensure that there is a high chance of purchase due to coupons and thus greater amount of return of the purpose. However the issue of targeting raised many arguments due to the tendency to break the privacy of individuals, for example by tracking website visits, searches or credit card purchases.

Another issue which has made an obstacle in using the coupons is the term of use and the lack of trust it may cause in the consumers. The most important goal of coupons is to attract the individual and convince them to purchase of the products, and at the same time reduce the chance of product comparison(for example comparing the quality of ingredients in a restaurant’s menu) by means of make it much more affordable compare to its competitors. At the same time the company which issues a coupon wants to limit the extent of discount by introducing the terms of use statement, for example a common term is to limit the number of coupons a costumer can use for savings at a given time. While some of these terms may seem reasonable to costumers, many sound or look suspicious and unfair to them and make them reluctant to look at coupons even though they may not contain such terms. For examples a coupon for kitchen appliance which offer 20% saving has a term explained in very small fonts which require a minimum purchase at regular price, this results in losing the trust of the costumer and also make other similar coupons like a scam.

Personally I feel that there are three important factors which influences when and how I use coupons. First and most importantly is my fragile economic situation as an undergraduate student with minimal support; in this situation I use coupons mainly for the essentials supplies for life such as transportation, groceries and utilities, and for these coupons have a major role in shaping my decisions of what and where to purchase and these decisions are usually regardless of product/service characteristics other than their cost. Second factor is the availability of coupons; usually grocery coupons are more widely available than others so I tend to use them more often. Also many coupons are available exclusively for students and thus I tend to use them more often as well. Lastly how often a given coupon is available to use also determines how likely it is that I use the coupon, many coupons which offer lower range discounts are usually more readily available. Overall, in my life coupons have a major role in my decision in choice of products and retail stores for purchases, but this decision in turn relies heavily on my economic and lifestyle situation.

A note from us at I’m In:  We offer lots of ways for you to save on groceries at I’m In!