Jill Cataldo, Published February 28 2014
Coupon Queen: Large city, but still fewer coupons
I am just so confused as to how an area as big as ours in the Quad Cities gets such a small amount of coupons delivered in our paper compared to what a city like Chicago gets. Any information you might be able to give me as to why an area with a combined population of nearly 400,000 people barely gets any coupons would be much appreciated. Thank you.
– Amy M.
A: This question has come up numerous times with my readers. Why do different parts of the country, and different newspapers, get different coupons? There are a lot of factors that play into this, including population, proximity to major supermarket chains and geographic and regional areas that marketers wish to target. I don’t believe there’s a conspiracy afoot to give certain shoppers “better” coupons than others. However, major cities and their outlying suburbs do tend to get larger coupon inserts with more pages.
Different newspapers in the same market area also can have entirely different sets of coupon inserts, too. Again, the decision to release large coupon inserts in some areas and smaller inserts in others isn’t to “punish” anyone. Marketers are looking to boost sales of specific products in particular market areas.
You compared the population of the Quad Cities to Chicago. As you noted the Quad Cities are home to more than 300,000 people. Chicago’s population is 2.7 million people, and if you count the entire Chicagoland metropolitan area, the number jumps to more than 9.5 million. From a marketer’s perspective, they may see a larger return on their marketing investments when they place ads in newspapers in a larger area. If they aren’t seeing enough of a sales boost in a “smaller” area (and again, I’m not arguing that 300,000 people is small by any means), they might not place coupons.
I live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and there have been times that I’ve purchased a newspaper in the city and found different coupons and inserts than I receive at my home in the ‘burbs. There’s nothing I can do about that – I just accept that certain brands and products are being targeted toward city dwellers over suburbanites.
I’ve long said that couponing is a privilege, not a right. We can want to insist on the “best” coupons, or to have the same coupons that another area receives, but they’re not something we’re guaranteed by anyone.
One bright side: Printable and electronic coupons are available all over, no matter where you live. And, while some offers are also store or region-specific, sites like Coupons.com, SmartSource.com and RedPlum.com offer printable coupons to shoppers everywhere.
I realize it’s not the same as getting a nice, thick coupon insert in the newspaper each week, but it’s a good way to supplement your coupon base.
Smart living tip
Whenever I’m traveling on a Sunday, the day the coupon inserts come out in most newspapers, I’ll buy a paper. It’s always interesting to see what coupons are available in the area I’m visiting. (Plus, who doesn’t like extra coupons?) And, if you fly on a Sunday, take a stroll through the airport terminals and “clean up” discarded papers others have left behind. It’s a great way to get more free coupon inserts!
Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.