Alright consumers, Macy’s heard you loud and clear: you want a good deal, not a good price. To celebrate the revelation, Macy’s is proud to announce the return of the coupon. Psychological gratification is yours to clip and snip away, 15%-20% at a shot.
Despite their dowdy image, coupons remain a huge business. In 2006, companies issued 279 billion of them, or roughly 1,000 per person, up 13 percent in four years, according to NCH Marketing Services in Deerfield, Ill.
They remain, above all, a psychological tool, granting shoppers the seemingly illicit — and gratifying — right to snag a bargain. (Never mind that stores typically set prices high and budget for the “discounts.”)
“If you have ever watched a person at a cash register with a handful of coupons, you can see they are so proud,” said Jan S. Slater, a professor of advertising at the University of Illinois. “They love taking their coupons out, counting them, showing them off, watching as the tab on the cash register falls.”
But retailers dislike coupons, which train shoppers to wait for deep discounts, making it harder to sell full-price merchandise. Moreover, Mr. Lundgren said, “in our research, customers told us, ‘It’s complicated and confusing and I don’t what the exact price is.’”
Thanks, psychologists. Knowing that our love for coupons is irrational fills us with self-loathing.