Coupon Trends July 2015 SmartSource

12 Aug, 2015


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We are continuing our analysis of Coupon Trends July 2015 by looking at SmartSource inserts using QSeer and the new CHEQR software. Sunday July 26th arrived with two SmartSource inserts, delivering a grand total of 123 coupons in the Atlanta market.   Analyzing these inserts revealed that a shocking 78 of these coupons, or 63%, contained major errors that could cause problems at checkout. An error is defined as whenever the information encoded in the coupon barcode (called the “DataBar”) differs from the written coupon terms.

Making matters worse, nearly half of these mistakes are potentially harmful to the consumer, mostly resulting in coupons that will not scan properly at checkout.

Fortunately for coupon users, the most common error was the failure to encode an expiration date in the DataBar, which occurred 38 times.  Retailers increasingly tell their cashiers to rely on their computers to verify whether a coupon is valid and whether the consumer has purchased the correct products.  If there is no expiry date encoded in the DataBar, then the computer treats the coupon as never expiring, like those magical coupons from the 1980’s!

Thinking about errors that hurt the consumer, 15 of the DataBars are simply too small, such that many registers will not be able to read them at all.  These are the coupons that the cashier will slide across the scanner again and again, but the scanner cannot read ever them.  Store computers have been programmed to look for bars of a certain size.  Unfortunately some manufacturers shrink the DataBars so there is room for larger product photos or more legalese.  This is a huge problem at stores like Wal-Mart that have policies against taking coupons that will not scan. We all hate checking out with coupons that don’t scan, and then having the cashier look at us like we did something wrong!

Couponers whose stores offer coupon doubling should take note of the Scotch-Brite 50¢ coupon, as it has a hidden code that prevents it from ever doubling.  Jeers to 3M for not disclosing in English that the coupon will not double.

Ten coupons contain hidden “Start Dates”.  This is happening because many marketers simply are confused about the proper usage of the Start Date field in the DataBar format.   The result is that these coupons are coded so that they cannot be redeemed before Sunday, even if your paper comes out on Thursday! We have been seeing more coupons using Start Dates, so this is an important issue if you get your paper before Sunday, and another great reason to scan any coupons you plan to use with QSeer.

Some manufacturers are better at coupons than others.  S.C. Johnson, the maker of Windex, Shout, and Fantastic, deserves a gold star for having five perfect coupons.  On the flip side, Johnson & Johnson gets a couponing demerit, making at least one major error in each of their 13 coupons!

Once again we give props to the new CHEQR software for making it possible to provide such detailed analysis of these inserts! And please remember that coupon acceptance is always up to your individual store!


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This is my favorite app! I am a big couponer and Qseer has opened up a new world to that.
LOVE Qseer and it has saved me sooo much!!!
I really, really love Qseer. It's the first app I have ever bought and it was very much worht it.
I love Qseer and I really appreciate you guys developing it.
I have been looking for an app just like Qseer to help me with my couponing.

Meet Katherine Cary!

Welcome! I left my marketing career to stay home with my family. Since I started focusing on couponing, I now save over 90% on my grocery bills every month. My goal is to share my insider knowledge to help you become an expert couponer and save more money than you ever thought possible!
Have a question or ideas?
Contact Katherine and team at