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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Roman D.

“Do coupons influence your purchasing decisions… Why, or why not?”

Coupons can be a very powerful tool and often influence my purchasing decisions and motivate me to seek products and services. However, whether or not I actually commit the resources to making those purchases depends on several factors. First, the coupons must offer significant savings such that redeeming the coupon is worth the effort. Second, the coupon must be for the right or desirable product. Lastly, the coupon must be in the right form making redemption simple and easy. When all of these factors align, I will typically commit my resources to making purchases whether or not I actually need the product.

First, the coupon must offer significant savings such that redeeming the coupon is worth the effort. Everyone loves a good deal or a sale. Similar to a line from the movie, “The Godfather,” some coupons make offers you can’t refuse. In such cases, those coupons typically offer deep savings not normally available, making a purchase a necessity or hard to pass up. On the other hand, I frequently observe coupons that appear to offer deep savings, only to later find that the fine print essentially alleviates the savings; making the coupon no longer advantageous. In which case, the coupon is deleted and the product goes UN-purchased.

Secondly, the coupon must be for the right or desirable product. Coupons that offer deep discounts are of little use when they are for products that I don’t need or find desirable. That’s not to say that I have to desire the product in advance (I believe that advertising and marketing teams are largely responsible for creating the need or desire in consumers for certain products). Personally, I often don’t know that I am even interested in certain products until I see the right product at just the right savings. As such, the product or services coupon must be presented in a way that creates a need/ desire for the product that elevates that product above other similarly situated products.

Lastly, the coupon must be in the right form making redemption simple and easy. Needless to say, in this era of advanced technology and mobility, the days of clipping coupons before going shopping are over. Nowadays, most people are equipped with cell phones that are just as powerful and as fast as any laptop or notebook computer. Therefore, having access to digital coupons via email and/or scan able bar code is essential. One useful tool I have found effective is when companies or websites circulate links via email to coupon banks or post those links directly on their websites. These are helpful because they provide instant access to coupons and provide the potential customer with an opportunity to comparison shop among other products offered by the same company (or in some cases, a competitor). In either case, the coupons are centralized and easily accessible. However, paper coupons can still be effective if located in close proximity to the product being sold. For instance, some stores co-locate coupons on the shelves with the discounted product. I find this method particularly helpful and it eliminates the possibility of forgetting to bring the coupon for in store purchases.

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As stated above, coupons can effectively influence purchasing decisions. Coupons have the ability to positively affect purchasing decisions and promote spending. When the savings are deep enough, even non-essential products and services become must haves. However, when done presented in the wrong way (i.e. savings too lean, too much fine print or the ad/ coupon does not present the product or service as purchase worthy), a coupon can have just the opposite effect and cause shoppers to reject products and services. However, in my case, the coupon must offer the right amount of savings, be for the right product, and be in the right form. When these three factors align, like most consumers, I will convince myself that I should purchase the product whether or not I actually need the product.

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