Marketing to Women: Confessions of a Twenty-Something Couponer

August 9, 2011 § 2 Comments

Katie Dunham, New Coupon Queen

Enjoy this post from Katie Dunham, newly christened twenty-something coupon queen.

Like every other American woman in our recession-laden times, I need (and like) to save money.  And like every other person with basic cable, I’m fascinated by the TLC program “Extreme Couponing.”

For the uninitiated, “Extreme Couponing” is an addictive reality show following people who coupon like it’s a full-time job.  Viewers follow along as these mega-bargain shoppers proceed to save hundreds upon hundreds of dollars at their local grocery stores, often without spending a dime in a single transaction. It’s riveting.

Sure, many of these people could also easily be classified as grocery hoarders, but the initiative they take towards saving money is inspiring and has gotten me thinking recently.  Sure, I don’t need 75 bottles of barbecue sauce or 100 packets of noodles, but if those people can save that much, I can certainly shave down my two-digit weekly  grocery budget, right?  Right.  Not to mention, that according to the NCH Resource Center, consumers saved $2 billion with coupons in the first half of 2011.  If everyone else in America can coupon, so can I.

But as I begin life as a newly christened coupon queen, I’ve had a few things to think about:

1.   Couponing takes time, something which I and my fellow millennials are even more stingy about than money.  Where the extreme couponers often spend upwards of 40 hours a week clipping coupons, cross-referencing grocery store circulars, or scouting multiple supermarkets, I’m lucky if I can spend half an hour on Sunday nights figuring out my shopping for the week, much less searching for a newspaper full of coupons.  (But that’s a conversation for another day.)

2.   Couponing still seems to hold a bit of stigma among my generation. Even among the young professionals, and “creative underclass” here in Los Angeles, who are forever living beyond our means, couponing is something our others and grandmothers do.  No offense.  And often the products featured in coupons aren’t really stuff we would usually buy.   Give me the cereal, hair product, and ice cream coupons; I’ll leave the kiddie snacks, frozen breakfast bowls, and Metamucil for someone else.

3.   Trader Joe’s doesn’t take coupons.  Let’s be honest, that’s a big deal.  Soft cheeses and coconut water can cost twice as much at major retailers.

So, what’s the solution for someone like me?  Loyalty programs and daily deal coupons!  Online discounts are great too.  According to, digital coupons were up 100% from June 2010 to June 2011, while newspaper coupons only grew by 8.4%.  Of the more than $1 billion digital coupon savings reported by, many of those coupons were uploaded to a store loyalty card.

In the latest Online Shopper Intelligence survey, about one-third of online shoppers said they use online coupon sites, with 35 million people visiting coupon sites in April 2010.  More than half of shoppers who used an online coupon code said that if not for the discount, they would not have made the purchase.  Looks like coupons might just drive sales too!

This all rings true in my own coupon quest.  As I’ve made a concerted effort to be a smarter shopper over the past few months, my real go-tos have become CVS and Ulta, for their amazingly user-friendly rewards programs.  For every few transactions at CVS, I’ll get a few dollars back and a bevy of new coupons tailored to my shopping patterns.  And if I plan my toiletry and cosmetic purchases around trips to Ulta, I can make good use of their fantastic coupons ($3.50 off $10; $20% off) and rack up the rewards points.  True confession: Because of my Ulta rewards points, I haven’t paid for perfume in about a year.

And don’t even get me started on daily deal coupons.  I’m sitting on about a dozen right now, and I’m talking about coupons I’ll actually use!  The proliferation of daily deal sites and e-mails seems tailor-made for myself and my friends.  We can now live like we want to but at half the price, frequenting our favorite gourmet burger places, pricey Korean spas, and fancy new yoga studios.

And one last thing, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported that retailers are now introducing smaller package sizes, a real help for those of us not shopping for families or large households (or going out instead of cooking every night).

I guess the conclusion to be drawn here is that there’s a coupon out there for everyone.  And, in the midst of the recession, retailers have been creative enough to get us too-cool twenty-somethings to do a little extreme couponing of our own.


Marketing to Women: Will Women Ever Shop Again Without A Coupon?

April 6, 2011 § Leave a comment


Dumpster Diving for Coupons

There are many legacies of the Great Recession and it seems that coupons, deals and a desire to win by shopping smart are among the most important.  All we have to do is look around us to see the impact made by coupons and daily deal sites.  In fact,  the trend is so strong that a new television series Extreme Couponing premieres on the TLC network tonight.  The show follows along some of today’s reality star extreme couponers, creating a show somewhere between Hoarding and Deal or No Deal.

Daily deal sites have become a way of life.  I get four in my inbox daily and more are screaming for my attention.  According to BIA/Kelsey, U.S. consumer spending on deal-a-day offers, is expected to grow from $873 million in 2010 to $3.9 billion in 2015, representing a 35.1% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

BIA/Kelsey estimates there are 178 cities with deal-a-day sites reaching 102 million people in the United States. Groupon and LivingSocial are still the leaders in a marketplace of 200-plus players, but the broader field includes destination sites and white-label providers working with local media providers such as directory companies, newspapers, and radio and television operators.  There are all types out there.  Some more beneficial to retailers than others.  I have written about some of the specialty sites like Daily Deals for Moms who provide better marketing advantage for retailers.

A new study Moms Shopping Trends Report from and BSM Media reveals that 86% of Moms have purchased from online sale sites and 32 percent of Moms place this category in their top three cost saving strategies.  There is a certain “high” that comes from  saving money.  The study says that one in four moms compare finding a good deal to the emotional value of guiltless chocolate or a special night with a significant other.  Almost 94 percent of moms admit to buying ‘feel good’ purchases for themselves, with the most popular items being clothing, sweet treats and accessories.

But where will all this addiction lead?  All of the recent studies on shopping have reported that our shopping habits have been altered for good.  But are we really saving money, or just feeding our new addiction to save money?  And what happens to brands in this saving frenzy?  Are they becoming the grist for the commodity meal?  Some brands have entered the fray with their own shopping partnerships to ensure they have a place at the table.  One that I have written about is Sole Society, a partnership of HauteLook and Nordstrom.  More of these type of strategic partnerships will have to happen to ensure that brands keep their relevance.




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