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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Josh W.

Coupons play a significant role in everyday purchasing decisions. Throughout the last 100 years, consumerism has played a large role in not only American culture, but worldwide culture. Thanks to the early 1900’s theories of Sigmund Freud, the world powers learned that they could control and influence the people by creating desires in their subconscious mind through the usage of consumerism. The first example in history came from the unisex popularization of the cigarette. In the beginning years of the popularization of the cigarette, males single handedly made up the entire population of the cigarette market. However, tobacco companies soon learned that they were only hitting half of their possible market since females did not smoke. It was considered taboo at the time for ladies to smoke. Through the use of advertising and money, tobacco companies were able to quickly draw in female consumers by labeling the cigarette as a “torch of freedom”. See, the female suffrage and rights movements were in full swing at this time and by labeling a cigarette as a torch of freedom, the tobacco companies played to the subconscious desires of the female population; hence, they were able to double their target market.

What does any of this have to do with coupons? Well, this idea of playing to the desires of consumers slowly turned America, and the world, from a need based culture into a want culture. In other words, people stopped buying three outfits per year because that is what they needed, and instead they bought ten or more outfits for a year or less because that is what they wanted. Since the beginning of the 1900’s, the consumer culture has gained speed rapidly, and today the world is witnessing a mass of civilians lining up, and fighting over, a pair of shoes. It is actually quite sickening to see. For example, everyone has heard of “Black-Friday”, during Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving day) companies put their items on extreme discounts in order to make a profit, or be “in the black”. During this day, millions of Americans, and people in countries elsewhere, flock to their favorite stores in order to catch the sale of the year. For the most part, people really do not need the things that they rush to get, yet they want these things, and if they do not get what they want it results in a wave of anger and disappointment. This is why fights constantly break out during Black Friday. Freud was right in his philosophy, this consumerism has stimulated the American economy and has given the government subconscious control over our consumptions.

A result of the extreme consumerism has lead to the creation of the coupon. Coupons, like sales, draw in consumers who may not even need what is being “couponed”. I am guilty of this myself. I constantly look at coupons for my favorite restaurants, stores, and activities when I do not necessarily need to go to these places or do these things. But since there is a coupon, I will go because why not? Coupons save money that go towards your potential wants. If there were no coupons for, say, Burger King, yet McDonalds had coupons for their food, one might choose to then go to McDonalds instead instead of Burger King and therefore you are satisfied because you saved money, and McDonalds is satisfied because they got your business instead of Burger King. In a sense, coupons almost control the consumers subconscious decision. Maybe before one had the coupon for McDonalds, they wanted to go to Burger King.

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Coupons are also so influential that there are people virtually addicted to coupons. On the tv show “Extreme Couponing”, people spend hours on end cutting out coupons in order to save money. Many times, these people do not need what they are buying, do not use what they are buying, and sometimes do not even acknowledge what they are buying, however, they still buy it because they had the coupon. I understand, not everybody is addicted to coupons, but people use coupons so frequently that it comes close to being an addiction. I see this even in my own family. My grandmother gets the Sunday paper for the sole reason of seeing what coupons come with it. She recycles the news and keeps the coupons. It seems ridiculous, but I am sure that my grandma cannot possibly be the only person to do that.

To formally address the question: Do coupons influence your purchasing decisions… Why, or why not? I would answer with yes, coupons clearly influence not only my purchasing decisions, but almost every single American’s purchasing decisions. We live in a purchasing world so why would we not want to at least save some money while we’re at it?

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