The Coupon Queen is a Win-Win-Win-Win-Win

12 Apr The Coupon Queen is a Win-Win-Win-Win-Win

Valassis and Albertson’s recently sent out letters demanding that newspapers stop selling the Sunday paper after the “specified publication day.”

Aside from sounding very much like restraint of trade, it is a very scary notion that a large coupon insert company and supermarket chain should attempt to dictate to newspapers what they can and cannot do. The free and independent press in this country is fast becoming anything but.

That should frighten the bejeezus out every man, woman and child old enough to read.

Don’t get me wrong. We love coupons and coupon companies. We love Albertson’s that happens to own Jewel, the dominant supermarket chain in Chicago. We understand that making it possible for consumers to acquire and redeem coupons outside the normal distribution window could be disruptive to Albertson’s business.

However, could it be that consumers are simply getting smarter about coupon use by reading columns and viewing videos from such experts as Jill Cataldo, The Coupon Queen? She is teaching newspaper readers how to make the most of the coupons freely distributed in the paper to stimulate grocery store business and sales of brand name products.

It seems that in some markets coupons are working too well! What a shock in this economy.

Jill takes the view that the Sunday paper landing on her driveway is like being handed more than $100 cash due to the coupons. We have heard that in some markets consumers actually go out on Sunday and buy multiple copies of the newspaper just to get additional coupon circulars.

Thing is, this is a win-win-win-win-win. The newspapers win because they sell more papers. Consumers win because they save money. Valassis wins because coupon redemption goes up. The brands win because they sell more products. Albertson’s wins because it gets more people into its stores.

On that last point just think back to the last time you went on a shopping trip to the supermarket. Were you disciplined enough to buy only what was on your list or the items for which you had coupons? Me either. So just how hurtful can the occasional Sunday newspaper sold on a Monday (or horrors, the following Friday) be?

The fact is every newspaper that has coupon inserts should be running The Coupon Queen. She helps consumers learn how to get the most from the coupons in the newspaper — help consumers desperately need in these uncertain times. She also helps newspapers strengthen their bond with their readers. The Coupon Queen reminds readers that the newspaper is valuable!

The Holy Grail in the coupon business is controlling the relationship with the consumer. Valassis itself is a major distributor of online coupons. Limiting coupon use, controlling how newspapers do business and trying to keep consumers in the dark about how to get the most from coupons is bad for everyone. Moreover, it is just another step in the erosion of a free press in America.