Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Catalina Coupons - The Real Deal

I'm the first one to admit that my heart often skips a beat when I hear the sweet sound of a catalina printing at the end of my transaction - it's just like cash - or is it?

Catalina coupons print for a few different reasons: (Let's use diapers as an example)

#1.  Your Store Loyalty card has recorded your purchases for the past several months and recognizes your shopping habits.  For example, you buy a lot of diapers, so a catalina coupon will spit out of the machine for a store brand baby product.  Clearly, the store knows you have a baby and hopes you'll try their product as well.

#2.  You buy a lot of diapers, but only Huggies brand.  Pampers desperately wants your business so the next time you buy Huggies a high value Pampers manufacturer coupon spits out in the hopes you'll switch your Huggies brand loyalty on and off like a light switch and try Pampers instead. (Ha, ha Pampers it won't work - Huggies ROCK!!)

#3.  You buy 4 packs of Huggies diapers and Huggies is running a catalina promotion that every person who buys 4 packs of Huggies (regardless of using a store loyalty card) gets a $4.00 cash coupon good on your next shopping order or OYNSO as I call it.

These "cash" catalinas are clearly a favorite of every couponer and deal seeker in America (including me), but.......  you're NOT getting a good deal unless you spend the coupon on a good deal!!!

Quite often I'll rank a good deal and use the words "= Like FREE after catalina (Or Register Reward or Up Reward) coupon.  I say it's like getting the product for cheap or free because I'm calculating the cash value of the catalina coupon into the purchase price.  BUT, it's not really free and it's not really cheap.  The coupons you get back are more aptly described as a bonus with your buy.  The initial purchase price isn't reduce by the catalina coupon, your next purchase is!

So, should you then turn around and use a cash catalina coupon ($4.00 off your next shopping order) to buy non-sale items? NEVER!!!  To truly take advantage of your "bonus" offer you must use the coupon on already reduced price sale items.

Use the first deal to buy a second deal or you're wasting the savings!

Truthfully, though I love catalina coupons, sometimes they can make saving money more difficult.  Catalina coupons can expire in anywhere from 1 week to 2 weeks, so you're forced to use your coupons on a sale you might not normally participate in, just to use your coupons, or lose out completely on the savings.  And, what if you forget to use the coupon before it expires?  Think about it - it's like a mail-in rebate.  Studies show that the majority of shoppers who think they'll submit for a rebate never actually do.  They either forget to submit the rebate or lose the form.  Many stores count on that!  They know that everyone who is offered a catalina coupon won't necessarily redeem them and that saves the store money.  Plus, retailers and grocers want you to spend even more money in their store so they issue coupons that MUST be used only in their stores, thus limiting your savings capabilities even more.

Recently Rite Aid started offering their own form of catalina type coupons call Up Rewards, basically a cashback coupon for select purchases in store.  Why do this?  Why change the way shoppers save money?  Why can't a sale be a sale, just like before?  Is it for your benefit?  I'll let you decide.

Whether or not you love catalina/rewards coupons or not, they can either be a great savings or a great savings drain.  Make sure if you decide to participate in a catalina or other cash back coupon offer that you use the coupon to buy more deals and never, ever, let them expire or you've just wasted much of the savings you worked hard to get!

C'mon - you know I'll still be participating in and using catalina coupon offers - it's in my blood.  But, understanding the game and how to play it is half the battle!

1 comment:

  1. What a great post! Enjoying your blog. I'm new to couponing and need all the help I can get. Thanks!!


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