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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Koenraad L.

How Coupons Influence Purchasing Decisions

Coupons influence most people’s purchasing decisions. Why do I believe this? Well, first of all, we are seeing more and more companies offering coupons. So it must be working for them. Many of these companies are now also providing these coupons by email which makes it easier for consumers to use them as they can be retrieved on a smart phone while standing at the cash register in the retail store. A recent survey by Forester Research revealed that 60% of shoppers make their purchase decisions based on coupons. In fact, more people were influenced by coupons rather than by sales. Secondly, I was raised in a family that used coupons a lot and I adopted the same habit as I started shopping by myself. I see a lot of my friends in college do the same. My parents and I use coupons mostly for clothing, restaurants, and household goods. We also use the loyalty programs that exist at many stores such as Kohl’s and at restaurants such as Panera and Daphne’s. Kohl’s is one of the most aggressive brands when it comes to using coupons to entice customers to come to their stores to shop or buy items through their website. We shop there a lot because of the coupons so this is definitely an example of how coupons influenced our purchasing decisions. I believe this is true for many other consumers. It is part of human nature to want to get a good deal. The coupon gives the consumer the sense that he or she saved many on the purchase, whether that is actually true or not. The bottom line is that coupons entice many consumers to shop at stores that offer these coupons so it directly influences their shopping decisions. People simply want to get a good deal or, at least, get the impression that they got a good deal. The Forrester Research survey, mentioned earlier, also revealed that the use of coupons brings customer loyalty, i.e., customers who used coupons to make a purchase, are more likely to shop at those stores or websites again, with or without a coupon.

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Coupons are most effective when they are easy to find, easy to use, and apply to large ticket items. For example, my parents do not use the 20 cent coupons on toothpaste, margarine, and other grocery store items as it is too much work to find them, clip them out of the newspaper, and sort them out. They do use the coupons of stores like Kohl’s, Macy’s, and Bed and Bath because those 15%-20% coupons are easy to find (they come to us in a separate flyer or email) and make for a substantial savings as they apply to large ticket items. This definitely influences their purchasing decision. When my dad needs to buy a clothing item, he will always check Kohl’s first because he wants to use his coupon.

Mobile coupons are the newest form of coupons. Many people are using smartphones, not only to communicate, but also to research things on the fly. This includes finding a digital coupon while shopping in a store. In addition to getting coupons by email, consumer are now also able to search for coupons online on their phone or by using a smart phone app that uses their location data. I recently had to buy a new battery for my car and used a coupon that I found online on my phone for Pep Boys while my battery was being installed. My car had died in the parking structure of the college where I go to school and AAA towed me to the nearest garage that had batteries. So I did not choose Pep Boys at first but the fact that I was able to find and use a coupon will likely make me a repeat customer.

My parents are pretty cost conscious so coupons helps them with household budgeting. They do not overspend. I do believe, however, that some people spend more than what they should, just because of the fact that using coupons gives them a false sense of savings. So coupons influence the purchasing decisions of those consumers that spend too much money on things they do not need as well.

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