Monday, September 13, 2010

National Coupon Month

My Two Cents: 
National Coupon Month

It was more than the birth of a new savings tool, it was the birth of a revolutionary way of life! In 1886, John Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist who created the recipe for the syrup used to make Coca-Cola, distributed what was to be the first documented coupon – a free drink card to encourage everyday consumers to try the new drink.

According to recent research from the Promotion Marketing Association's (PMA) Coupon Council, today, 97 percent of all primary grocery shoppers now use coupons at the supermarket. Charles Brown, co-chairman of the PMA Coupon Council said, "Consumers love coupons — they are a great way to economize, stretch the grocery budget and try new products for less than retail price."

Since that first handwritten Coca-Cola coupon in 1886, coupons have been used to save on everything and anything a shopper could possibly need. In 1998, the PMA designated September as National Coupon Month to “raise awareness to the deals and value coupons bring.” So, I guess my only question is, where are the $0.99 greeting cards and discounted presents? I mean, this is something to truly celebrate!  I’m moving for National Coupon Month to be designated as a federal holiday – no work, just shopping!

Coupon redemption rates are at historically high levels with more and more users changing their grocery shopping behaviors by implementing coupons to stretch their grocery budgets.  These consumers saved nearly $2 billion with coupons during the first half of 2010, says PMA, with manufacturers offering an increase of 18 billion more coupons during that time period. It’s interesting to note that in 2009, shoppers redeemed almost 3.2 billion coupons, the second largest increase in coupon redemption ever recorded, according to

History of Coupons:

In light of National Coupon Month, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the evolution of coupons through history. 

1886: Coupons are born! John Pemberton, a pharmacist from Atlanta, creates the recipe for the syrup used to make Coca-Cola and distributes free drink cards to people on the street encouraging them to try the new drink at a specific pharmacy.

1891: Asa Candler, the druggist who bought the formula for Coca-Cola for $2,300, arranges with pharmacies to direct mail account-specific coupons to customers for a free glass at the soda fountain.

1894: Coca-Cola converts their free coupon to the format most typical today — good anywhere the product is sold.

1895: C.W. Post distributes the first cents-off coupon worth 1 penny toward his new health cereal, Grape Nuts. (One penny? WOW! How many of you think you would have cut that coupon out? I hope all of you!)

1930s: Coupons become a staple in American households because of the Great Depression.

1965: Half of Americans are now coupon users.

1975: Coupon popularity continues to grow. Over 35 billion coupons are distributed and 65 percent of American households are now coupon clippers.

1999: Online coupons begin to gain popularity.

2008: 89 percent of consumers use coupons while shopping at the grocery store to save money during an economic period of price increases.

2009: $311 billion worth of coupons are distributed across America — the largest single-year distribution quantity ever recorded. Shoppers saved nearly $3.5 billion with coupons.

2010: Consumer packaged-goods coupon distribution and redemption (as of first half) continue to build on record-breaking growth trends of 2009. Consumer purchase behavior points to a permanent shift toward value and saving as the United States recovers from the worst recession since the Great Depression.


Using coupons makes cents!  More than ever, shoppers need to be frugal in their grocery spending. Adding coupons to your shopping routine can literally shave hundreds of dollars off your monthly grocery bills and that adds up to thousands of dollars a year!

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