Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cheap and Cheerful Chatter: Coupon Conspiracy Theory

As much as I enjoy saving money by using coupons, I bristle a bit at how it seems that coupons drive spending towards unhealthy food. Case in point: Have you ever seen a coupon for bananas? I see lots of coupon for frozen pizza, baking products, and snack foods. Or what about coupons that encourage you to try new products at a discount when you might get the same new product at a similar price just by waiting a few weeks. The larger companies like Kraft and Proctor and Gamble can create a buzz about their newest merchandise just by doling out high value coupons. Speaking from experience, it is pretty easy to get caught up in the coupon game. While there is nothing wrong with saving money, I wanted to see firsthand how the larger stores and larger product manufacturers work in tandem to bring in coupon toting customers. From what I've read online, many coupon shoppers target Walmart for great deals. So I decided to test my theories by visiting my local Walmart to scan their shelves. It was immediately apparent, just by scanning the end caps in various sections, that the stores are positioning products paired with coupons, making it easier for customers to find and purchase those items. Frozen pizza with $3 off coupons on one, Huggies diapers on $3 off another, the brand new Pantene products with $1.50 off all in a long row. Certainly an eye opening shopping trip. Hey, I got some new Homestyle Mac and Cheese for $.50, a Digiorno pizza for free, Heinz ketchup for $1, and Aquafresh toothpaste for $.62 with coupons. But, was it worth it?

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