The word coupon is created from the French word “Couper” which means “cut”. The era of coupons started from 1886 when a pharmacist John Pemberton created a special recipe for coca cola which was sold for 5 cents a glass. He started a campaign to distribute free vouchers throughout the street so people could try coke for free and buy it next time.. After two years, a business man Asa Candler bought this todays billion dollar recipe for $2300 and acquired Coca cola. Candler continued with Pemberton’s marketing strategy and kept distributing more free vouchers with more energy. He added the vouchers to magazine and newspapers too.
In the beginning of the coca cola era, they were only able to sell 9 servings of coke per day but now they have successfully acquired the market by selling more than 1.9 billion glasses per day. Cutting it short about the success of coca cola, with this amazing free voucher strategy, Asa Candler was able to sell more than 8.5 million servings of coca cola between 1984-1913.
By looking at the success of coca cola, the coupon and voucher strategy was adopted by different other companies like C.W Post started offering 1 cent off coupons for the new grape nuts cereals and following the trend the other grocery coupons took birth.
During between 1930-40’s, America was facing a shortage of food, clothes and other necessary items due to World War which taught them the art of frugality and saving and it became a duty of a housewives to save as much money as they can in daily household expenses.
In late 1930’s, the new departmental stores started opening throughout the country. They began failing due to the gas prices which were high (10-15c/gallon), home town buyer loyalty, distances between markets, and many other factors. Those big fish took advantage of the shortage of supply and recession and introduced “in-store” coupons in 1940. Customers really liked the idea and shifted towards these departmental stores from the shops nearby. They kept offering attractive coupons and nearby shops kept closing their businesses due to loss. Customers totally shifted toward departmental stores and the new era of couponing began.
Till 1950’s, the trend of coupons spread across the Soviet Union and other parts of the world.
The coupon journey worked for 17 years until the departmental stores started to feel threatened that were unable to reimburse everyone for the coupons as they started to face loss in terms of time and money. In fact, they threatened to stop accepting coupons and few stores did too.
In In 1957, the first coupon clearing house was opened. “The Nielsen Coupon clearing house”. It solved the problem for everyone, manufactures, retailers and buyers. With clearing houses, it served as a middle-man between the manufacturers and retailers and the process of redeeming coupons became fast, easy and efficient. It also encouraged manufacturers to distribute coupons directly to the retailers.
In 1965 around 50% of the US population used coupons and it became a hobby of many of collect, clip coupons. Most of the coupons were distributed through newspapers, magazines, mail, flyers, television advertisements and through different other methods.
The Technology TakeOver.
In 1990’s, the internet was born and shifted the trend of offline coupons to online coupons with downloadable coupons, printable coupons and virtual coupons.
In the 21’s Century, online websites like Groupon and DiscountCodez.com take place and offered the digital coupons which can be entered at checkout page of an e-commerce store to redeem that coupon.
Now the coupon trend has been totally revolutionized with numerous coupon websites, applications, extensions, bar code scanners, magazines, television commercials, mobile texts, emails, and every other medium. More than 80% population today tends to find coupon codes before commuting a purchase.
The future can only be predicted but who knows that how far will this coupon technology will go in future. The blockchain technology might take over this coupon industry. Maybe customers will get out this marketing trap of coupons or anything could happen.
What do you think will happen to coupon industry in future? Let us know in the comments.