are coupons cool again?

18 Feb

I received am email from Open Table today offering a 50% off deal for Café Riacce, an amazing Italian restaurant in Palo Alto that its been far too long since I last visited.

My initial thought was…wow, it seems like everybody’s trying to get in on the success of sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, cashing in on the rising popularity of where crowdsourcing meets something that’s been around for ever, couponing!

If that leads you to wonder about the history of coupons like it did me, here’s a quick background on coupons from Wikipedia. It cites Coca-Cola as the inventor of the coupon, which evidently dates all the way back to 1887.

I’ve never been much of one for coupons. I’ve never really enjoyed using them, often causing my coupon-loving mom tons of frustration. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love a good deal, but for whatever reason I feel cheap when slapping down a coupon for a meal I’m perfectly capable of paying for. I don’t know why I feel that way, but I do.

And yet, although I have this aversion to coupons in general, here I am happily and willingly subscribed to Groupon and LivingSocial. What gives? 

I haven’t purchased from the sites alot, but I have scored great deals on the Napa Wine Train and more recently a great 60-minute massage at a new spot close to home for $35 bucks instead of the usual $80.

Is it more interesting to me because Groupon and similar site are “new”? Or because they’re topping headlines?

But what struck me most thinking about these kinds of services what the simple fact that Groupon seems have made couponing “cool” again. No longer something most heavily used by penny pinchers, starving college kids or stay-at-home types with too much time on their hands to do, but something people are drawn to more and move, regardless of income level. I have a number of good friends who make plenty of money and don’t “need” to use coupons, but leverage these deals offered by the Groupons and similar services as a great excuse to try out new restaurants and services.

What are your thoughts on whether or not couponing is cool again? Do you buy deals from sites like Groupon? Do you use online coupons for other retailers, such as those provided by

Additional related resource:
Pretty interesting TED talk by Lisa Gansky on the future of “mesh” delivered at a recent TED event in Motor City. She talks about the rise of mesh businesses such as Zip cars and Netflix that combine social, mobile and service-oriented offerings to deliver new and unique products and services to consumers. Lisa also talks about how much more easily sharing of these kinds of services is in a world of Facebook and Twitter and how that can help accelerate their growth rate.


4 Responses to “are coupons cool again?”

  1. Robert Kellerman February 19, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    I wasn’t a big couponer until joining Groupon. In the beginning, it was cool to see if a deal would even be on — it required a certain number of takers. Now all the deals are on because of the popularity. I had an awesome birthday dinner thanks to Groupon and have tried establishments and foods in some cases I didn’t even know about.

    The Borders coupons I got via email were like ringing the bell for Pavlov’s dog — I started to salivate and walk immediately to my fav Borders on 34th street by Madison Square Garden, which if it gets closes due to recent Chapter 11 I will freaking be pisst.

    So coupons, yeah…. cool again in my book 🙂

    • erinqueen76 February 21, 2011 at 1:12 am #

      Seems to be a theme here with Groupon really spawning a whole new “generation” of couponers. Pretty interesting if you ask me –and for such a straight forward concept. I enjoy regular trips to Borders as well. I am not at all on board with shift to digital books meaning the end of the printed kind. I so much prefer actually turning a paper page.

  2. CalWalker February 19, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    I, like you, have a lifelong adversion to “couponing.” I’m one of those persons who rolls my eyes in the grocery line when someone ahead of me takes out the bag of coupons and begins coupon matching. However, I LOVE a good Groupon! And I look forward to Rick Broida’s daily CNET Cheapskate Blog’s daily deals on tech products. Just this week I picked up a long-sought Logitech Harmony programable remote for 50% off. So what’s with the attitude regarding coupons? I don’t know but in the future, I’m going to stop the eye-rolling with the coupon-ers…unless they slow down the line (Lightbulb) which could be the problem…they inconvenience others.

    Love your blog!

    • erinqueen76 February 21, 2011 at 1:09 am #

      Thanks so much for commenting. It sounds like we are similarly adverse to “couponing”, but agree sites like Groupon are great. I just wonder why exactly that is. I’ll have to check out the CNET blog you mention, although I don’t *really* need any new electronics or gadgets.

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