U.S. Food Expert Says TLC Network’s ‘Extreme Couponing’ Causing More Harm Than Good to Consumers and Retailers
SANTA MONICA, Calif., June 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — TLC’s Show “Extreme Couponing” is causing more harm than good to both consumers and retailers according to Phil Lempert, a leading food industry expert and editor of SupermarketGuru.com and The Lempert Report. “Extreme Couponing” features everyday people who save hundreds of dollars in a single trip to the grocery store.
“When I saw the first episode of “Extreme Couponing” last December, I thought the viewing public would learn new ways to save money and be reinvigorated to use coupons each time they shop,” says Lempert. “However, according to research and direct feedback that we’ve received, consumers no longer feel good about saving $10, or 10-to-20 percent. They’re becoming depressed that they are not able to buy $1,000 or more groceries for 25 cents.”
In addition, Lempert adds that supermarket retailers are now revising couponing policies to avoid driving themselves out of business with abnormal and unrealistic redemption costs. Retailers use coupons as a powerful method to introduce new products and spur sales in particular ZIP codes or with targeted customers.
“Couponing is a valuable tool for brands and marketers,” says Lempert. “With the Internet’s ability to focus offers better than ever, we should be rejoicing. Instead, we’re promoting a desperate feeling to catch up, saying that unless we can save more than we spend, we are failures at food shopping.”
In a quick poll on SupermarketGuru.com readers were asked about their grocery savings strategies as a result of the promotion of “Extreme Couponing.” According to the panel results, 73 percent said they spend one hour or less planning their savings/shopping trip with only less than one percent spending more than four hours.
When asked “if time is money” 59 percent of the panelists replied that saving time is equally important as saving money.
Even without the tens of hours a week clipping away, 64 percent of SupermarketGuru.com panelists report saving between 11 and 40 percent compared with the “Extreme Couponers” who may save upwards of 90 percent but who have spent between 30-to-40 hours per week clipping, researching and managing their coupons.
Consumers, even those who call themselves “couponers” tend to agree with Lempert. Comments posted to an article he wrote about the subject and published in Supermarket News include:
Helena Hasquin-Ricketts who says, “Unfortunately since the show, I’ve had to make more trips to the store to keep my savings the same as it has been in years past. All of my stores have changed their coupon policies since this show aired and that hasn’t happened in years. Coincidence? Maybe, but I doubt it.”
Janet McMonagle notes that, “in online boards there are lots of folks who now feel like they don’t get it because they are not able to do this right away. I view this as partly a result of the show, and partly a result of people wanting instant gratification. A recurring theme online seems to be, ‘I can’t do this cuz (sic) my stores don’t double.’ The fact is that not all the stores on the show are doubling. It has always, for my years of this, been about finding the deal and making the maximum value of it.”
And Kymira Gee says, “The ordinary, everyday coupon user who only takes care of their own family and donates a little excess, is being punished by stricter policies. In addition, there’s a stigma attached to using coupons now. Even using a few coupons may brand us as ‘One of Them.’”
Lempert says, “It’s fun entertainment and certainly there are tips we all can learn, but I don’t want people to feel bad because they’re less successful than those featured on the show.” He adds, “As food prices continue to rise, and shoppers continue to search for the ultimate savings, we can only hope that more meaningful food messages — like good taste and good nutrition — are not lost.”
About Philip Lempert
Known as the Supermarket GuruÃ‚®, Phil Lempert publishes the trends publication The Lempert Report and Food Nutrition &Science. He is the author of several books and founded www.SupermarketGuru.com in 1994 that is a leading online resource providing consumers with food safety, products, trends and shopping tips. With more than six million visitors annually, consumers have access to breaking food industry news, health and nutrition tips and other food-related information. For more information, please visit www.SupermarketGuru.com.