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September 14, 2021

Poor consumers don't use coupons, rich ones do: study

When you think coupons, you think middle-aged housewife sitting at the breakfast table, meticulously cutting them from a newspaper while her cigarette smoke swirls in and around her still-in hair curlers.

That’s the stereotype.

But new research shows coupon users may not be who they seem. Or, more accurately, not who you’d think they’d be.

A study from The Nielsen Company suggests more affluent consumers ($70,000 or above, per year) are actually the largest users of coupons, not those whose budget would imply a more penny-pinching approach.

According to Reuters, the biggest proponents of coupon use are from large households (especially with a woman head under the age of 54), or those living in “affluent suburban and comfortable country spreads,” which Nielson defines as having an annual domestic income above $94,000.

In surprising contrast to that, Nielson found “low or non-coupon users” were from low income or one-member households.

Other groups opposed to coupon clipping were those in households with male-only heads, those in rural or struggling urban areas or consumers who are African-American or Hispanic. (Nielson doesn’t define an annual income for these demographics.)

Now, this all seems a bit … odd, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t it seem that the highest discount-seekers would be those groups with a need to worry about money, especially over coupon-centric yet inconsequential items like toilet paper, cereal and whatever else there’s a deal on?

In any case, there was a little rationality found in the Nielson study, at least.

The recession has driven our coupon consumption up, according to the report, bumping “lighter” coupon users in 2008 to “heavier” coupon users in 2009.

So it appears we’re learning a little, but that first point is still beyond me.

You tell me. Why do you think poorer people use coupons less?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...