Business

Shop smart with coupons

By Tameka Gordon Assistant Business co-ordinator

Sunday, November 11, 2012    

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'Tis the season to be jolly and for some people this translates into spending sprees from which the bitter taste of regret extends long into the new year.

But as the New Year's resolutions are created, one company is suggesting that both the conscientious shopper and the spendrift develop the art of coupon shopping to maximise on their dollars.

"We are seeking to develop a coupon culture within the Caribbean similar to that of the US, where money-saving coupons are widely accepted and a part of the daily lives of value-seeking consumers," said Ruthann Fong, managing director of Sky Blue Advertising, a start-up company which promotes products and services for clients.

"We are currently conducting feasibility studies with the help of a few supermarket chains to get feel of how receptive Jamaicans are to the use of coupons."

She is encouraged by the consumer response as well as the assistance from major chains such as Loshusan, John R Wong, Empire and Lees Food Fair, which are assisting through coupon use and redemption training of their personnel.

"It's just a matter of changing the mindset," she said, adding "It's believed that only lower income people use coupons and that is not true."

Consumers remain financially pensive in the aftermath of the financial crisis, presenting a prime opportunity for the value-conscious shopper, Fong said.

Shoppers in the United States saved US$3.7 billion ($335 billion) in 2011 through coupon redemption, which increased by 63 per cent last year, according to a February 2012 Coupons.org report

The website said technological advancements have changed the sentiment of coupon use from penny-pinching single parents to young, more affluent and tech-savvy with the introduction of on-line deals and smart -phone downloads.

Fong plans to implement a "superior coupon distribution network" through direct mail, newspaper inserts and in-store distribution slots.

But how exactly do consumers benefit from coupon shopping?

"Consumers get to budget and plan their shopping lists ahead of time and instead of waiting see the deals when they get to the supermarkets, they will already know how to maximise their disposable income," she said.

She added that the risk of trying new products would be reduced by the "free-money" given to the consumer and a sense of "connection" to favoured brands is created as the consumer "gets something back for loving the product".

Sky Blue, still in its testing and set-up stage is set to roll out marketing, coupon advertising and redemption services early next year.

Though she has encountered "naysayers" who she said have tried to convince her that Jamaicans will never change their mindset of coupons, Fong said she plans to offer advertisement, processing, management and promotions analysis to interested companies within the Caribbean and the United States.

"Retailers also benefit from coupons," she said. "They get to attract new customers, provide direct incentives and reward loyal users." She said.

An added benefit to retailers when compared with 'banded deals', she said, is that the consumer "actually goes go out looking for your product" having already gotten the coupon "before-hand" while banded deals are store-fixed.

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