OK, so yesterday I posted about the brighter side of “Extreme Couponing.” Today I’d like to talk a bit about the trend’s darker side.
Could the TLC’s Show “Extreme Couponing” be hurting shoppers’s self esteem? Phil Lempert, a leading food industry expert and editor of SupermarketGuru.com and The Lempert Report, thinks it might be.
“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.”
I can’t help but make the comparison to girls’ and women’s self esteem when they see unrealistic pictures of thin celebrities–and then get depressed because their own bodies don’t look that way. (Hello! Air brushing. In 2008 singer Britney Spears shared untouched and retouched photos of herself in a bathing suit, to show how even a star with a fit body like hers doesn’t look perfect in real life. Way to go, Britney!)
The same can be said for the unrealistic situations that the show portrays, especially when it comes to stores breaking their own rules. How so? In some episodes you come to find out that supermarkets that normally double only a few coupons doubled all of them when the cameras were rolling.
This not only hurts self esteem, when regular shoppers can’t match these deals, it hurts all shoppers.
According to Lempert supermarket retailers are now revising couponing policies to avoid driving themselves out of business with abnormal and unrealistic redemption costs.
“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.
Unless you’re running a couponing site and earning a full-time salary for your connection to couponing, I can’t justify spending a full-time schedule worrying about coupons–especially if you end up feeling bad about yourself in the end. However, I do believe that there are some couponing tips you can takeaway from the show, just as I mentioned in yesterday’s post.
Agree? Disagree? Post a comment to discuss.