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Coupons: GOOD for Consumers… but BAD for Manufacturers? I Think Not!

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I recently received this email from Hip2Save reader, Lucy…

[h2s_box]First of all, thanks for all your hard work into letting us know about all the great deals out there! 🙂 I felt the need to contact you because as I was talking to someone about my couponing and all the great deals and I was shocked by the response I got. They told me I should be ashamed of myself because I should think about the manufacturers and the people who work for the manufacturers (factory workers) and their families and how they lose money because of people like us who don’t pay what it should be (normal price). Since you know a lot of things about couponing, I want a response into how this isn’t true or how I can tell this person they are wrong. I would greatly appreciate your help. [/h2s_box]

This such a great topic for discussion! First, I would like to point out that manufacturers are responsible for creating and releasing coupons to be used by consumers. If manufacturer’s were truly losing money as a result of coupons, then they would stop releasing coupons. So the question is why do manufacturers issue coupons (i.e. what’s in it for them?!). I personally believe that the 2 main reasons are listed below…

Increase Brand Recognition/Attract New Customers

If I have a coupon for Scott Toilet paper, that is the first brand that I am going to check out when I get to the toilet paper aisle at the store. I will look past the 10-20 other brands to zoom in on the Scott brand. Even if I decide not to purchase Scott Toilet paper at that time, I have still made a connection with the brand and will likely recognize it on future shopping trips.

Promote New Products

When a manufacturer releases a new product, they often release coupons as well. These money-saving coupons encourage consumers to try out the product for little out-of-pocket expense. Obviously, the manufacturers hope that you will fall in love with the new product and then continue to purchase it with or without coupons.

And the truth is that as hard as it is to admit, I have in fact purchased items at full-price with no coupons because I love the products that much!

So what are your thoughts?! Are coupons good for consumers and bad for manufacturers or are they a win-win for everyone? Please share in the comments! 🙂


Collin founded Hip2Save in 2008 and has over 10 years experience as a deals and lifestyle editor, strategist, and creative copywriter. She is debt-free and has been featured in Parents Magazine, Today.com and MSNBC. Connect with Collin on LinkedIn


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Comments 166

  1. Suzanne H

    People need to remember that the manufacturer isn’t the only player in the good deals we get. Grocery/drug/etc. stores offer loss leaders or low profit margin items in order to entice us into their store in hopes we will buy more and/or come back to that store. It’s a marketing tool just as coupons are a marketing tool for manufacturers. What couponers do is marry the two marketing tools together to get an item for cheap or, sometimes, free. Both the manufacturer and the store took the “hit” – not just the manufacturer. And, really, it’s generally not a “hit” for either, they just make less profit than normal. I used to work @ a grocery store – many items are marked up as much as 300%. When something goes on sale, even @ a cheap price, the store is still generally making a marginal profit. I know a lot of people go and get loss leaders only but I am also willing to bet there are a ton of us who go out and buy all of our groceries @ 1 store and coupon our total trip but still end up buying produce, meat, etc. – things that typically do not have coupons for them. I refuse to feel bad about it b/c I spend quite a bit of time on couponing and view my savings as my wage for time spent. Also, the 2-3 stores I go to make a profit off of me in other items I buy (at full price or sale price without a coupon). Lastly, I coupon honestly so no guilt there!

  2. Bea

    Watching shows like Extreme Couponing, i dont’ know how I feel about the people who pay under $10 for their $1000 bill to then see them put it in their stock pile. I understand things like toilet paper, but 100 bottles of soda will eventually go flat. They show them cleaning out the store on items, what about the other people who also have coupons and wanted to buy them to actually use them at that time.
    I’m not a huge couponer, I saved $20 bucks once and was so excited. But it was on items I used and needed at the time. Just because their “Stock pile” is nice and neat, doesn’t mean they are any different than a hoarder.

    I love coupons to save money on items I know I will use. but seems some people just want free things even when they don’t want or need the item. That seems greedy.

    I agree, Manufacturers wouldn’t put out coupons if it didn’t benefit them in some way. But I have wondered if the extreme people make a difference or not.

    • Suzanne H

      I agree with you about people who clear shelves, esp. if they don’t need the item – are just putting it in their stockpile. I don’t get that but everyone has the right to do their own thing. I do like when stores put limits on the # people can buy b/c then I have a shot @ getting at least 1 or 2. Personally, when I get extra for cheap or free, I donate. Our Food Bank has a drop box right outside of the grocery store and someone is always doing a Food drive. Twice a year, I organize one @ my office. The Food Bank does accept toiletries as well so I donate those too!

    • Nicole

      the show is staged anyway. Kroger gets a big kickback and allows the people to stray from their policy for the show and for advertising. I am sure that other stores do too so it’s not a realistic comparison to wonder how they do it.

    • spoonforkeat

      The TV show extreme couponing is horrible. It isn’t realistic at all. A store in the city in which I live was featured and I just knew that the deals the woman got were unrealistic. The show is for entertainment, not information. Since the show had aired, it seems as if, the deals just aren’t as good anymore. I used to be able to get lots for free (not $1,000 worth of items though), but since, have not found deals like I used to.

      While I hate when people clear shelves, I think it’s different when it comes to clearance. If you find an awesome clearance deal, it’s fair game. I’m not one to be greedy. There have been times when I found an item on clearance and went to take the last four, but shared with someone else walking up and looking at the deal. Sales and clearance work in cycles. If I miss a deal, another one is sure to come about.

  3. Jamie

    I haven’t read everyones comments yet, so someone may have said this already, but I feel people think so negative because of the TLC show, Extreme Couponing. My personal opinion is that show should be tag teamed with the show Hoarders. I “extreme” coupon to an extent, I have a little stockpile. But I also make bags for my neighbors, I donate A LOT to food drives for my sons school, to Toys for Tots during holidays…where ever and whenever I can. I started a little over 2 years ago and couponing made me go from a check to check mom renting a tiny apartment for my son and I to having a little money in the bank, and owning my own house before I turned 30. It will also help me put my son thru college. I get so offended when people associate couponing with stealing or being dishonest when most of us do so much good and give back as much as we can. Your website shows that constantly 🙂

    • amanda

      You r so right if it wasnt for coupons our family of five would barely get by im a 23 year old mommy of three w a house payment i dont appreciate being looked at like a thief i have had to stop shopping at cvs because of this!!!

  4. Catherine

    As I sit here and read all the previous coupons i’m nodding my head and saying yep yep that’s what they do… I have only started couponing about 2.5 months ago. I’m still reading everything I can and trying my best. I find that when people see me in the store with my binder (I have to take it with me because I’m afraid I’ll miss a good deal) they either snicker or make a comment to something like “there is another of those couponing people stripping the shelves”. OMG one of the first things I read when I started couponing was not to be piggy, and not to cheat. I try not to do either, ever. It’s sad that people think we are taking advantage of the stores and companies with the coupons. I feel blessed that I am able to do better for my family by using different avenues. Sorry, I’ll get off my soap-box now.

  5. Stela

    I have a stockpile of items that I have purchased by couponing…I try to keep it a limit of ten on non-perishables and five on food items with longer expiration dates. What bothers me is to see people selling these items they clear the shelves off with and selling it at a yard sale

  6. The Ceej

    See, I get the purpose of coupons. They’re advertising. You print the coupons out and it looks like you’re offering a deal to the consumer, but basically you’re just persuading them to buy your product because, even though your competitor’s is cheaper even after the coupon, yours is x amount off its standard price… The idea is to get people who don’t ordinarily buy your product to buy it because they have the coupon. If you know the game, you can game it.

    However, be that as it may, it actually IS bad for consumers. Why? Because they spend millions of dollars on paper, printing and distribution of these coupons, and they’re only taking off hundreds, or maybe thousands, of dollars off the total price of all moved units. If they just advertised the price as being x amount off, without requiring you to have a coupon to pay for it, more people would be getting a deal, which means more repeat business, AND they’d be saving more on the advertising campaign than the expanded audience is costing them.

    Which makes you wonder, why won’t most companies take a coupon you don’t have? That’s bad for business. Sort of makes you think it’s not about the money, eh?

  7. The Ceej

    Please edit this comment so it says, “However, be that as it may, it actually IS bad for manufacturers” rather than for consumers. Although, it’s also bad for consumers, that wasn’t the point of that part of the comment. Once you have done so, you may elect not to approve this second one as it’s meant as more of a message to you. Thanks.

  8. Beth

    I work in a hair salon that generates coupons. At first I whined and complained because I as a stylist felt I was getting shorted on my paycheck as a result (being as I work on commission at the price points before coupons.) But fast forward six months and the coupon customers were now returning for their six week trims and adding other services. Companies know what they are doing when they put out coupons.

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