Digital couponing attracting younger shoppers
The only F-word in the Zimmer household is “full-price.” Anne-Charles Zimmer is a true believer in couponing. Instead of paying the full fare for groceries, the Zimmer family uses scannable coupons to get discounts on groceries.
While she remembers clipping newspaper coupons, Zimmer said her family now uses mostly all digital coupons. The third-year University of Florida student said she doesn’t typically follow in her family’s footsteps by using coupons when she’s away at school.
“I’m good at choosing the cheaper option or getting BOGO items, but I don’t use physical coupons as much,” Zimmer said. “My parents do get mad at me when I don’t [use coupons].”
Instead of having to carefully cut coupons out of the Sunday morning newspaper each week, couponers can now pull out their smartphones for all of their doorbusters.
Krystal Sharp, an avid couponer, said paper coupons still exist and are used by consumers, but most companies have digital apps that feature all of their coupons.
Sharp, a couponer from Kissimmee, said she saw the number of paper coupons “drastically reduce” in newspapers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2020, paper coupons have continued to decrease from companies like Procter and Gamble, which discontinued its paper coupon inserts at the end of 2022.
In 2021, over 145 million Americans used digital coupon codes for products ranging from household items and groceries to beauty products and electronics. Sharp said the expansion of the digital world allowed her to become an efficient and effective couponer and entrepreneur. She turned her love for couponing into her own business where she works as a money-saving coach and posts her experiences with couponing on social media.
Sharp has been surrounded by couponing since she was a kid living in Baltimore. She said every week, her mother used to get a newspaper for $1 that was filled with coupons the family would use at the grocery store.
When she went off to college, Sharp taught herself how to keep store coupon policies in her “coupon bag” and figure out how to save money with coupons.
“Since I was 18 - since I’ve been on my own - I’ve always couponed,” she said. “I don’t know how not to.”
In August 2018, Sharp said she decided to record herself couponing and post it on YouTube after some of her followers asked her to teach them how to save money. That's how Krys the Maximizer was born.
By January 2019, she had acquired over 5,000 subscribers and received her first check from YouTube. On her one-year YouTube anniversary, Sharp was laid off from her job but said she knew she wanted to pursue her own company and coupon full-time.
With over 34,000 subscribers on YouTube and 56,000 followers on TikTok, she is now a full-time money-saving coach who shares her tips and ideas on social media.
“Now it's more about teaching people how to manage their money and build a stockpile of things they need without going overboard,” Sharp said, gesturing to her personal stockpile of household items she keeps at home.
Sharp’s go-to places to use coupons are Walgreens, CVS, Target and Publix. To find her coupons each week, she uses all of the companies’ mobile apps and goes through each store’s weekly ads to see what’s on sale in-store.
From there, she decides which stores she’s going to get discounted items from to add to her stockpile. She also emphasizes that her coupon spending is separate from her grocery spending. She mainly uses couponing for her stockpile of household and personal items, including cleaning supplies, feminine products and sometimes foods like cereals or snacks.
With increased prices and the national inflation rate at 6.5%, Americans are looking for ways to reduce their spending in any way they can. Sharp said creating a stockpile of household items by using coupons has helped her withstand the effects of inflation.
“I worry about inflation but a little bit,” Sharp said. “I was never paying full price for anything anyway.” As an example, she said that, by using coupons, toothpaste used to be free or a money maker for her. Now she pays between 25 cents to 50 cents per tube.
“When you have a money-saving strategy, you’re only going to feel it [inflation] but so much,” she said.
As digital coupons have become more available over the years, Sharp encourages everyone to utilize the technology by earning coupons or rewards wherever possible to help save money.
“Being able to get the things that we need without paying ridiculous [prices] I think is more important than one big trip where I saved $100,” Sharp said.