Written by: Lucy Raymond
Vouchers codes and coupons have been around since 1888, when Coca Cola boss Asa Candler devised them as a way of raising awareness of what was then a relatively unprofitable tonic beverage product. Coupons were mailed to potential customers and printed in magazines and newspapers, and retailers were given free syrup to cover the cost – and the strategy worked. Within twenty years nine out of ten Americans had enjoyed a free drink and the company expanded exponentially.
Voucher codes and coupons nowadays come in a variety of formats:
Percentage discount coupon
The standard discount coupon is by far and away the most popular, and usually offers you a set percentage off when you buy a product, typically between 5% and 20%. In order to make a discount coupon look more appealing some businesses will quote the amount of the discount in straight monetary terms instead.
Some coupons offer you free shipping, and the attraction to the consumer here is clear: Being able to buy a product and pay the advertised price without having to worry about hidden extras like delivery charges makes for a far more pleasurable shopping experience (just ask anyone who’s been stung for high delivery charges after thinking they’ve found a bargain on eBay , how disappointing it can be and you’ll get the picture…)
BOGOF- Buy one get one free
You can also get BOGOF coupons, which are a clever ruse by retailers and manufacturers to get you used to consuming a particular product by making sure you get double the volume rather than the same amount for less. That way you get greater exposure to the product, which is important when trying to establish brand loyalty.
First time customers
First time customer coupons are another incentive to persuade you to change brands, and are usually found in service-based industries like hairdressing or spa treatments, as the practicalities of checking customers’ first-time buyer status don’t present too much of a problem in these types of businesses.
You’ll also come across free giveaway coupons occasionally as well. These tend to be arranged between two businesses, allowing both of them to benefit whilst only having to pay for one promotion.
Where can you find voucher codes?
Coupons have traditionally been offered predominately via print, in newspapers and magazines, though modern technology is changing the delivery methods radically: Online retailers will refer to coupons via a variety of different names: “promotional codes”, ”discount codes”, “voucher codes” and “discount vouchers” are some of the more popular, and they tend to work by providing you with a specific code – usually no longer than 4 or 5 characters long – that you can use at a virtual checkout facility, circumventing the problem of not being able to offer paper coupons online.
Virtual coupons or voucher codes are also available on mobile devices nowadays, with offers text to your mobile via SMS. These voucher codes can be redeemed in-store or online, and are particularly popular with fast food outlets.
The science behind coupons is actually highly complex:
Many people think that they simply equate to a shop having a sale, but in fact they can be used to study the effects of price drops on specific sets of consumers in various different geographical areas, and are a great example of every business’s desire to operate price discrimination, charging customers based on what they’re prepared to pay rather than setting a standard price for everyone.
Whilst there’s never generally any sort of catch with coupons, do check for expiry dates, as it’s not uncommon for customers to buy a product on the assumption that they’re getting a discount, when in fact they’re not. Hunting around to find the very best deals and offers can be exhausting and time-consuming, so check out our Voucher Codes forum and let us do all the hard work…(with the help of our WP members too!)