coupon collecting — and decollecting


I love coupons! What’s not to love — they are free money for things I buy anyway. Seeing a coupon fulfill its destiny brings me much joy. No one enjoys double coupons and coupon calculus more than me.

When cutting coupons in last Sunday’s paper, I found a new kind of coupon. You can get a free box of Post Honey Bunches of Oats if you send Post five cereal coupons for competing cereals. This seems wrong. Usually companies give you coupons in the hope that you will buy their products. I have never seen a company conditionally offer a coupon if you are willing to sacrifice some of your other coupons. It makes me ill just thinking about wasting perfectly good coupons!

This tactic by Post goes against everything I love about coupons. Coupons are free and available to those of us with organization and foresight. Only offering me a coupon by taking some of my coupons away seems to fly in the face of free trade or something. It totally disrespects of the spirit of coupons.

However, I must admit that my technical side appreciates this tactic by Post: giving an incentive for buying their product only if shoppers are willing to give up some of their likelihood of buying competing products. I’m sure those who know more about incentive schemes and marketing have much more to say about whether this is a good approach. Still, I hope it’s not a trend.

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One response to “coupon collecting — and decollecting

  • Francisco Marco-Serrano

    Regardless of personal issues (“goes against everything I love about coupons”), I think this is perfectly aligned with free trade (I exchange 5 discounts for just 1 discount, that means the discount for Post would be valued at the sum of the other 5 discounts; just as we do with currency, for instance).

    On the other hand (I’m an economist and I can’t help it ; ) ), that reminds me to a joke about a guy collecting autographs asking an actor to sign 5 times for him; flattered the actor asks ‘why?’, being answered with these 5 he’ll get one of other just say better actor.

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