Attack of the Mutant Coupons from Hell!

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Okay so maybe that title is a tad dramatic but the little coupon is certainly generating a lot of talk these days.

The New York Times recently ran this somewhat cautionary piece outlining how online coupons could really be giving retailers access to vital and private information about their shoppers. This mutated coupon hybrid is loaded with super bar-codes that when swiped can pull up everything from your address, Facebook page information, and even the keywords you used to find the coupon. Marketers are now provided with the detailed shopping preferences of their clients. Privacy advocates are concerned with this all-knowing coupon as they wonder if the consumer and marketing boundaries are being erased in favor of quick deals and increased business. Shoppers seem to not really be too concerned with all this Big Brother-type talk.  According to the Times, the redemption of web coupons increased 263 percent to about 50 million total coupons. Maybe consumers don’t care about giving their information away or maybe they assume everybody must have it already anyway so why not save a few bucks?

I tend to agree with the shoppers on this one. While we are a far cry from the ancient era that I grew up in when mothers clipped coupons from the Sunday paper; the whole concept hasn’t been exactly pure of ulterior motives since their inception. Coupons have always tried to lure customers in and turn people on to new products. My poor mother when looking for toilet paper coupons was often harassed by me and my siblings for new crap that we certainly didn’t need. In their best light, coupons have always been somewhat shystie and clever so it is no shock that the new version is equally as crafty.

The usage and growth of coupons, in my mind,  truly says more about our collective empty pockets than it does about some evil brain scanning coupon plot to take over the world.  Besides, its hard to argue with the old “whatever it takes to bring ’em in” logic behind online and traditional coupons.

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