"I hate coupons!"

Dec. 14, 2011 | by Dale Furtwengler

This from a woman who's been clipping coupons most of her life. What raised this angry cry?

Imagine for a moment that you'd spent your valuable time clipping coupons for things you'd normally buy. You keep them with you at all times so that when you're ready to buy, you have the coupon with you. You're in the store selecting an item for which you have a coupon. You begin flipping through the coupons, find the one for the item you're purchasing only to find that it's expired. Ahhhhh! It's precisely this sequence of events that triggered the outcry.

As sellers, we're making purchasing our offerings more difficult when we offer coupons as evidenced by the aforementioned sequence. On top of that we're increasing the likelihood of customer dissatisfaction. When our customers really need what we have to offer and they're in possession of an expired coupon, they feel like they're overpaying. The ultimate insanity, though, lies in the fact that we're foregoing revenues and profits to make our customers' live miserable.

Sellers who utilize coupons as part of their marketing/pricing strategy point to the high level of coupon usage. Indeed, roughly 76% of consumers report using coupons "regularly." (You can find more data in my previous post on why you should stop issuing coupons.)

Why is coupon usage so high when the experience itself can be so frustrating? Consumers:

  • Will take advantage of a deal when it's offered.
  • Don't really track the time they spend clipping, sorting and updating their coupon 'files.'
  • Don't calculate the return on investment on their time.

The fact that customers "regularly" use coupons doesn't alter the fact that you're making your customers work harder to purchase your products/services. If you really don't believe that your offering is worth the price you're asking, lower it to the levels that a consumer would pay with the coupon.

If, however, you know that your offering is worth the price, demonstrate that value by leaving your price alone and stop offering coupons. You make your customers lives easier, avoid the dissatisfaction they experience when they're holding an expired coupon and you enjoy higher revenues and profits.

Still not convinced? Then answer this question, which of the following would you rather have your customers telling their friends?

  • I really like (your offering), but it's expensive so I wait for a coupon.
  • I buy (your offering). It's a little higher, but it's worth it.

Which of the above statements are more likely to generate new customers for you? The latter, because it's an overwhelming endorsement of the quality of your offering.

Stop making your customers' lives more difficult. Put an end to the needless drain on your revenues. Use those additional profit dollars to find new ways to serve your customers that add value to their lives. Who knows, in this economy, you might just be able to hire an extra worker or two.

Topics: Consumer Behavior , Marketing

Dale Furtwengler / Dale Furtwengler is a professional speaker, author and business consultant. His latest book, "Pricing for Profit," is dedicated to helping organizations break the bonds of industry pricing.
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