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Coupon Envy

Coupon Envy

I had to laugh at the report that came out yesterday saying consumers are “self-conscious” about redeeming coupons. When did everyone become embarrassed?

coupons.jpgGrowing up in the 1970s, I recall my Mom and all my friends’ moms adapted those little recipe boxes for their coupons. They even filed brands by name, in between the manila index cards that came with them. All that cutting and sorting…. It was quite an operation.

Now, a survey from Toronto-based ICOM Information & Communications reveals that more than one in 5 U.S. consumers (22%) admit they are sheepish handing them over at checkout.

I suspect our years-long revelry in the good life — spending beyond our means, obsessed with prestige brands and generously picking up the check — made the thought of using coupons, well, cheap. Thought: “Who needs to save 40 cents when I just drove to the store in my new leased Land Rover? Ha!”

It turns out we all do — today. The same poll points out that nearly 57% of those respondents who said clipping coupons wasn’t worth the time “no longer care as long as they are saving money.” Some 43% of those polled said they’re using more coupons then they did six months ago.

This is an ideal time for the natural foods industry to launch coupon programs. The ICOM folks found that 26% of consumers age 35 and under (the key natural/organic demographic) have fewer inhibitions about using coupons than they did last year.

If manufacturers can just take the edge off prices, shoppers might be more inclined to bite, and right now, that’s a nibble this industry could use.