coupons

DEAR JILL: How can I locate coupons for a specific brand of coffee? I don’t see them in the newspaper. Any suggestions will be accepted. Thank you. — JAY D.

DEAR JILL: I would like to know why there are no coupons in the paper the week I need them. I buy floor cleaning wipes at the end of the month, and some months I find coupons for them, some months not. Sometimes these coupons come out in the middle of the month, and that doesn’t work for me. — MARA N.

As much as we might like to have coupons available for all of our favorite brands and products, the system simply doesn’t work that way. Manufacturers and their marketing teams determine what kinds of coupons to issue. Together, they decide on coupons’ values, the dates the coupons’ campaigns will be valid, and how the coupons will be released: on paper or electronically.

It’s important to remember that coupons are a privilege, not a right. Manufacturers do not have to offer coupons at all for their products. They aren’t created or offered around our shopping schedules at all. Coupons are tools designed to incentivize a purchase. They’re intended to reduce the selling price of an item enough to entice shoppers to buy that product over a competitor’s.

Brands offer coupons for a variety of reasons. In-store displays and prime endcap product locations are often tied to larger marketing campaigns that also include coupons. A brand may want to move product off shelves due to a packaging, formula or logo change. The brand may also be creating a counter-offer to a promotion their competitor is engaging in.

For example, if one brand of laundry detergent launches a high-value coupon campaign to promote their new-and-improved variety, a competing brand of detergent may also issue a high-value coupon for their product. The other brand’s coupon may prevent shoppers from being swayed to the competitor’s improved formula. Instead of thinking, “I’ll try that because there is a $3 coupon,” the shopper may decide, “I’ll stick with the brand I know, because right now they have a good coupon, too.”

If a product sells well and does not need coupons to boost its sales or draw in new customers, we may not see coupons for it at all. For example, a well-known brand of lip balm, invented in the 1930s, sold with no advertising (and no coupons!) for nearly 70 years. Its loyal consumer base purchased the product regularly, regardless of price — a manufacturer’s dream! When this brand decided to expand its product lines and marketing efforts in 2006, it finally began offering coupons for its products to raise awareness of its new varieties and flavors of lip balms.

If you’re searching for coupons for a desired product and you’re not seeing them in one area, look to another. For example, if you cannot find a specific coupon in recent newspaper inserts, try browsing your store’s app for an electronic coupon offer. Or head to the manufacturer’s website and see if they are offering any printable coupons for the product. Some manufacturers require you to register for a free account to print coupons for their brands.

However, if you’re loyal to a particular brand, this can be a good way to stay notified of any new coupon offers, too. (One of my favorite tips when registering for coupons is to use a free email account service. That way, all of my coupon-related emails go to the same account and don’t interfere with personal emails.)

Again, coupons are not a right. No one owes us coupons for coffee, floor cleaner, or any other products we use and purchase. To save the most money, shoppers need to be willing to time their shopping around both sales and available coupons. If you notice that your favorite beverage brand has finally issued a rare, elusive coupon, pair that with a sale before the coupon expires so that you can take advantage of the additional savings.

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.

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