Most of us know coupons as "how I got this great deal" – or, worse, from being stuck behind that person in the supermarket who has a coupon for every item they purchase. Whether you pronounce it "coo-pawn" or "cue-pon", you know what those paper clippings mean: savings for the consumer. What most of us don’t know is that September was declared National Coupon Month in 1998 by the Promotion Marketing Association (PMA). What most of us also don’t know is that 2012 is the 125th anniversary of the coupon!
How did this idea even come about? Coupons started as the perfect marketing tactic: give the consumer something for nothing, and when they fall in love with the product (the company hopes) they have to purchase it full-price. According to Time and Coupon Sherpa, when Asa Candler decided in 1887 that he was going to get America hooked on Coca-Cola, he hand-wrote coupons for a free tonic. (Way back then, the drink was only five cents!) It’s estimated that between 1894 and 1913, that 8,500,000 of these coupons were distributed around the United States – or, in that time, roughly one in nine Americans received a free Coca-Cola. If the price remained the same that means Candler lost $425,000 to coupons. But it worked – Coca-Cola has been a household name practically since the brand began.
So, where have coupons gone from there? Well, coupons are still prevalent and can be cut out of the Sunday newspapers – or you can have them emailed to you, printed offline, or even scanned from your smartphone. You can find coupons in every outlet: social media, print, email...if you name the product's direct marketing outlet, chances are, you can find a coupon to go along with it. TLC even went so far as to create the TV show Extreme Couponing, where super fanatic coupon-cutters were able to show off all their deep discounts on cable television:
After 125 years, it seems as if coupons aren't going anywhere. Do you use coupons? If so, for what? Let us know!