Are coupons harmful to a brand’s value?

Let's Deal, Swedish Daily Deals Kickstarts By ...

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A coupon culture isn’t something we have much of here. While in the US crazy couponers get their own show and savvy bloggers get groceries and pharmaceuticals for mere cents, we don’t have ANY of that. There literally are no coupons to be had. Unless you manage to find something worthwhile on ezycoupons.co.nz or vouchermate.co.nz – which is pretty unlikely – most likely any vouchers or discounts available to you will be through something like the Entertainment Book or daily deal sites.

I don’t really understand why people are still rabbiting on and debating about daily deals, to be frank. It’s pretty simple. Use your head.

  • Use those vouchers straight away or make notes in your calendar to do so.
  • Buy deals that you will actually use.

Now, I like saving money. I think I’m a pretty successful voucher user, to the extent that I’ve dipped my foot in the water. The Entertainment Book is great because it means I can try new restaurants that I was already interested  in, but wouldn’t want to pay full price for. It means on the rare occasion we go out to weekend brunch (every couple of months) there’s no need to pay $20 for a big breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and hashbrowns each, because we have our pick of excellent cafes with 25 or 50 percent discounts. It means saving moolah at the cinema, the driving range and the video store (although when will we ever learn that that’s NOT a good idea? We never manage to return DVDs on time, hence why we pay for Sky Movies).

In terms of daily deals, I have much the same MO for dining offers – places I know and love, or have piqued my interest, or other offers I know will get used (see above about movies, etc). Because I don’t have back problems, I don’t need massages or therapy – but they’re nice every once in a while. And thanks to the dozens of deal sites available to us, I’ll never pay full price for them. (And they’re a pretty awesome, relaxing gift to myself and T on occasions like our anniversary instead of trinkets.) I have wasted one deal to date (I think it cost about $20 or 30), and that was some kind of spinal examination for T, who wimped out and decided he’d rather not be prodded and is happy barrelling along not knowing exactly how bad his back is.

But as much as I like saving dosh, I get awful coupon guilt. It seems a little bit … tacky? It’s all just a little bit awkward, or so it feels – especially with those hideous A4 web printouts you get, handing those over and walking away because it’s all been pre-paid. Anyone else ever feel that way?

Coming at it from the other side of the fence, it seems that aside from all the other potentially negative effects  for a business – losing money on a deal, being swamped with customers and unable to give them the usual level of service – it can also diminish their brand value.

Spa and beauty therapy places, in particular, seem to all be busy undercutting each other in a race to the bottom. As a consumer, I don’t care – I just want the best deal. But that seems unsustainable. Surely that service industry can’t survive long-term doing that.

A lot of the vendors (and really I’m just talking restaurants here, as that’s more my area) I have huge respect for would never get involved, because they’re just such niche ethnic eateries – and they’re usually popular enough not to need to. And you’ll never see the haute cuisine establishments stooping to that level. But how would you feel if somewhere you regularly frequented started putting out cutthroat daily deals? Would you think less of them? Feel cheated?


10 thoughts on “Are coupons harmful to a brand’s value?

  • Reply Sense September 26, 2011 at 20:14

    Def. coupon guilt, I bought a facial/massage/manicure/etc. deal for $99 for my birthday and tried to tip the masseuse at the end, because that is just what you do–you tip full price no matter if you have a coupon or not! The masseuse looked at me like I had three heads and refused the money, I guess because I had a coupon. so weird!

  • Reply addvodka September 27, 2011 at 02:25

    I get coupon guilt, but I don’t think less of the business that use those sites. THey usually do to get exposure, and hopefully gain some long term customers. And of course, I always tip if it’s a tipable service.

  • Reply Amanda September 27, 2011 at 02:55

    I definitely only buy those daily deal-type coupons when i’ve needed them and used them – which i only once, might I add. This is the first year that our household has been without an Entertainment Book (mostly because no one is at college/school anymore, so it’s an effort to get one, haha) and i always feel like i’m missing it! I’ll be like “I want to eat here/do this” but I *know* i can do it for cheaper with the Entertainment Book, and it bothers me that i don’t have it! Luckily the boyfriend’s household has one, so soometimes we nick the odd restaurant voucher, if his parents think they won’t want to use it.

    As for those other types of deals… I see those spa/facial type things all the time, but the thing is, I don’t think I would ever buy a voucher for them (even IF i were the type of person to go and get a mani/pedi/facial, etc in the first place, which i’m NOT) unless it’s at a place where i’ve heard is good and worth going to.

  • Reply My money, my life September 27, 2011 at 04:57

    yeah I get a bit embarrased – not sure if guilt is the right word for me – when using coupons. But the way I see it, decisions to put out coupons are made by calculated, savvy, business people. Usually it’s about taking a hit or a smaller cut in profits that will lead to a much greater clientele base, which will generate much more profit over the long run. Also, while I don’t use coupons that often and don’t subscribe to daily deals, I have noticed that the deals available are usually for items/services that are less popular and less likely to be sold at the full price in any event – e.g. food and drinks from 3 to 6 pm on a weekday, spa services at the hours and only if you purchase a bunch of them etc. So while I feel a bit awkward to use coupons, I don’t really feel guilty in doing so. I do believe in tipping on the full price of the service though!

  • Reply Stephanie September 27, 2011 at 05:17

    As an American, I use coupons when I run into them. They’re so commonplace that I have no qualms using them at all. Most Americans are not people who can get prices down to a few cents – we don’t think that that’s the effort, nor do brands intend to let us get the prices down to a few cents. You’re a consumer, and you’re doing nothing wrong by using coupons. Even classy brands, such as Banana Republic, give out coupons.

  • Reply Tracey September 27, 2011 at 09:21

    Can’t comment about the coupons and daily deals, as I don’t usually use them. However, you’re dead on with beauty place always trying to undercut each other and their service failing in the process.

    There is a hairdressers and beauty salon next to each other at a mall I often go to that have really low prices and a walk-in/no appointment policy. Was a good idea at first, but now that they’re well known you end up waiting for at least an hour to be seen, and then only if you’re assertive about your place in line, since they don’t keep track of who’s next. Poor service because they’re always rushing about and try to get through everyone as quickly as possible. I’ve learnt to pay the extra $5 and make an appointment somewhere else.

  • Reply Insomniac Lab Rat September 27, 2011 at 16:10

    I don’t have any issues using the occasional manufacturer’s coupon (I skim the ads we get in the mail, but don’t search anywhere else) or the coupon’s that my local grocery store hangs up right on the shelf next to the item. I figure, if it’s THAT easy to get the coupon, they really want people to use it.

    I feel a little weird about the daily deal type vouchers, though. We used some to try out new restaurants, which was fun, but even with tipping on the full cost, I felt like the restaurants must really be losing money on the deals. I thought about buying one for a hair salon I was thinking about trying out, but felt weird about that too, and ended up just going somewhere else.

  • Reply pushingthirtyy September 28, 2011 at 00:47

    My fiance is a coupon fanatic — we have 3 entertainment books! And I’m all over the Living Social and Scout Mob. Recently Scout Mob had a great deal at a place I frequently go to and I was thrilled. It had been a while since I’d been there so this was an excuse to go back. Using the daily deals allows me to explore new places. I am careful not to purchase too many deals at once, of course. I’d get coupon guilt if they expired! For now, I am enjoying never paying full price for the movies.

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