The Grapevine

Wine Shop Business Tips – Coupons Good or Evil?

July 1st, 2014

A few thoughts on coupons, Groupons, and other discount programs. [level-members]

Coupons are so common in our culture that many of us don’t give them much thought. A subset of that group would no sooner whip out a coupon than beg for change on the streets. For others, coupons are a way of life. (Think, “Extreme Couponing” and similar TV shows.)

So, are coupons good or bad for your business? Clearly, that will depend in no small part on whether your audience falls into one of the two camps above.

But beyond that, there are other considerations. The biggest is whether it trains your customers to always wait for a coupon. That has certainly been the case for my relationship with Sierra Trading Post. Very rarely do I have to have a piece of outdoor equipment today. So I wait until they email me a coupon for 25% or 35% or 40% off.

But before you conclude that the coupons are a detriment to Sierra’s business, think about the fact that they are my first stop when I’m looking for fishing waders or hiking boots. They don’t always get my business, but the coupons are definitely a fact in how frequently they do.

Still, it may be better to tie your coupons to particular events (a birthday or anniversary club, say) or to control them in some other way. This way, you can use the coupons strategically to bring in business you might not have gotten otherwise, and limit the damage coupons can do.

The most important ideas to think about with coupons, as with so many business decisions, are:

1. Knowing your market
Don’t alienate your best customers!

2. Experiment
You can’t know what works, or what works best without trying different approaches.

3. Track Results
There’s no point in experimenting if you’re not tracking results. And there’s no point in offering coupons if they aren’t increasing your profits.