Are Coupons Good For Business?

Coupons. Whether you love them or hate them, chances are you have used one in your lifetime. The question is, have you used them as a consumer or offered them as a business owner? Either way, when you are mapping out your marketing plan, incorporating coupons is likely to come up in conversation. While easy to quickly assume yes or abruptly say no, consider the following.

1. Does your target customer actively seek to use coupons at the other stores she shops from?

2. Is your customer a “sale” shopper or does she value full priced items?

3. Are you a store dedicated to repeat and loyal customers, tourists, local shoppers or lots of first time walk-ins?

Understanding who your customer is and how she shops is important. From there, it’s easier to identify the value of a coupon for this shopper.

If your average, returning customer is someone who comes to your store because they enjoy the experience – including the environment, customer support and product assortment – it is likely this customer will return without a coupon. If, however, most of your sales are generated based on events, discounts or other promotions, coupons may be good choice for your business. This said, most small merchants struggle to apply discounts to their inventory, and voluntarily rolling out a coupon campaign can be both costly and take away from money to be made.

Consider the following:

1. Producing print coupons costs money – therefore, money has to be spent before money is even made.

2. First time customers who use coupons are more likely to wait for another coupon before shopping again.

3. Customers who prefer coupon  shopping rarely shop without them – therefore you are training your customers to only shop when a coupon is available.

To top this off, many sales associates tuck away coupons to share with their customers – offering them unsolicited, even despite a successful sale on it’s way. If you have shopped big box retailers, it’s likely you understand this scenario even more clearly.

As independent retailers, you are in control of how you do – or don”t – market your business. Coupons are a traditional approach to gaining attention, but they don’t necessarily result in strong sales. If you train your customers to shop because your store deserves to be shopped from, coupons will quickly take a backseat to your marketing plan since it simply won’t be needed. Instead, invest your marketing time and dollars into more savvy strategies, such as in-store events, loyalty programsstore signage, customer appreciate days and more.

What are your thoughts on coupons? Let us know! Please comment below. 

Editor’s Note: We support both using coupons and not using coupons. The real question here is “What is right for your business”?


  • My TwoCents
    November 27, 2012

    Coupons give you a “perceived value” for your purchase. I think they are annoying. When I need one, I realize I clipped it but left it at home. Or, the store clerk says it cant be used on the item I decided to buy.
    SO i have spent time shopping, only to have to pay the “full price” or put it back, stick to my guns and not get the item. Or, yet a third choice – put it on hold – go back home and get the coupon. I have had kindly people with extra coupons offer me theirs.

    While JCP isn’t my favorite store, I so like their new CEO’s ideas about coupons. They aren’t advertising sales with coupons. Just every day low prices. I like that. I have purchased more items this fall from JCP and been very happy with my puchases. Esp. because the items were affordable and fit my clothing budget.

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