There in my Yahoo inbox this morning was my weekly message from Coupons.com, giving me some "piping hot offers." I've subscribed to Coupons.Com for a long time, and I still get that thrilling thought when one of these e-messages arrives: THIS may be the week when I'm going to walk away from the grocery having paid diddly for baskets and baskets of basically free food. (You know, like they do on TV.)
Because coupons are, after all, free money - right? Wrong.
Coupons are free money to me, and to you, only if they allow us to have things that otherwise we'd spend real currency to purchase. If they replace our dollars, then they act as substitute currency and we're wise to use them.
Coupons are also incentives to try things, particularly new products.
The big companies that provide these coupons (along with rebates) are trying to build customer awareness as well as their consumer base -- they are for-profit organizations, there is method in their madness. They aren't offering coupons as some kind of friendly endeavor, just because they like us. They're using a marketing tactic called a "coupon campaign."