The History of Coupons!
Coupons are a form of marketing strategy that offer consumers a discount or a free product in exchange for purchasing a certain item or service. Coupons have a long history that dates back to the late 19th century, when the Coca-Cola Company distributed the first-ever coupon, offering consumers a free glass of their new drink1. Since then, coupons have evolved with the development of technology and the growth of e-commerce, becoming more accessible and personalized for consumers. Coupons have also had significant economic and social impacts, stimulating demand, reducing inventory, and fostering brand loyalty. Here is a brief overview of the history of coupons:
- 1887: Asa Candler, co-owner of the Coca-Cola Company, created the first coupon, which offered a free glass of Coca-Cola to anyone who presented it at a soda fountain1. This was a way to promote his new product and increase its popularity. Between 1894 and 1913, an estimated 8.5 million free drinks were redeemed, and Coca-Cola was served in every state in the United States1.
- 1909: C.W. Post, the founder of Post Cereals, introduced the first grocery coupon, which offered a one-cent discount on his Grape Nuts cereal2. This was a way to attract customers and compete with other cereal brands. Post also used coupons to launch new products, such as Post Toasties and Postum.
- 1929: Betty Crocker began a loyalty program that offered coupons that could be used to redeem for premiums, such as free flatware1. This was a way to reward customers and build brand loyalty. The program lasted until 2006, making it one of the longest-running loyalty programs in history1.
- 1930s: During the Great Depression, coupons became more popular as a way to help consumers save money and afford basic necessities. Many manufacturers and retailers issued coupons to stimulate sales and clear inventory. Coupons also helped consumers cope with the rationing of food and other goods during World War II2.
- 1940s: The first coupon clearinghouse was established by Nielsen Coupon Clearing House, which handled the redemption and accounting of coupons for manufacturers and retailers2. This made the couponing process more efficient and standardized.
- 1957: The first in-store coupon dispenser was invented by the Coupon Corporation of America, which allowed customers to pull coupons from a machine while shopping2. This increased the convenience and visibility of coupons for consumers.
- 1965: The first trading stamp company, S&H Green Stamps, issued the first coupon book, which contained coupons that could be collected and exchanged for merchandise at S&H redemption centers2. This was a way to encourage repeat purchases and customer loyalty.
- 1970s: The first barcode scanner was introduced, which enabled the automatic scanning and validation of coupons at the point of sale2. This reduced the labor and error costs of couponing and increased the accuracy and security of coupon data.
- 1980s: The first coupon aggregator website, Coupon Information Center, was launched, which provided consumers with information and access to coupons from various sources2. This was a way to increase the awareness and availability of coupons for consumers.
- 1990s: The first online coupon was issued by CompUSA, which offered a $10 discount on any purchase of $100 or more on its website2. This was a way to attract customers and promote online shopping. Online coupons became more prevalent with the growth of e-commerce and the emergence of online coupon services, such as Coupons.com and Groupon.
- 2000s: The first mobile coupon was issued by Coca-Cola, which offered a free drink to customers who texted a code to a number2. This was a way to leverage the popularity and convenience of mobile devices and SMS technology. Mobile coupons became more sophisticated with the development of QR codes, NFC, and location-based services, which enabled the delivery and redemption of coupons via smartphones.
- 2010s: The first social coupon was issued by LivingSocial, which offered a $20 Amazon gift card for $10 to customers who shared the deal with three friends2. This was a way to harness the power and influence of social media and viral marketing. Social coupons became more interactive and personalized with the integration of social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, and the use of big data and artificial intelligence, which enabled the analysis and targeting of consumer preferences and behavior.
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