The History of Coupons

Companies have been using coupons to market their products to the masses for more than 110 years.

In 1894, Atlanta businessman and co-owner of Coca-Cola Asa Candler used handwritten tickets for a free glass of Coca-Cola to help market his new soft drink. Within one decade Coca-Cola was in every state and within two decades one in every nine Americans had received a free Coca-Cola soft drink.

One year later, grocer C.W. Post began using coupons to help sell food products. His coupon gave people a one cent discount on his new breakfast cereal, Grape Nuts.

During the dirty thirties clipping coupons had become necessary for many American families who struggled to afford groceries.

By the 1940s chain supermarkets, which were popping up all over the country, continued the tradition of using coupons that the smaller neighborhood grocery stores had developed.

In 1957, The Nielson Coupon Clearing House was established devoted entirely to coupon redemption.

Half of all American households were clipping coupons by 1965.

By the mid 1990s retailers began offering printable coupons which could be downloaded from the Internet. The new millennium saw internet retailers using coupons in the form of coupon codes to encourage shoppers to buy their products. These codes are also commonly referred to as "discount codes", "key codes", "promo codes", "promotional codes", "promotion codes", "shopping codes", "source codes" or "voucher codes". Most online coupons provided for a reduced cost, percentage discount or free shipping on orders.

By 2006 one of the most popular online coupons is the free shipping coupon which gives the shopper free shipping on their purchase. Free shipping has become one of the most important factors in determining where to buy online.


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great post...thanks for making us aware about the history of coupons
Posted by discountbloguk
Great article I work in the grocery business and have always wondered about the origin of coupons. I was also raced in Atlanta but luckily I'm not old enough to remember the first coupon. Thank you for the information...
Posted by JLee Jones

tbh, if amazon didn't have the free shipping option. i'd purchase from them less. it's such a great incentive and trap, even though you're paying for only $5 on average if you paid for shipping.

Posted by Carmen

Excellent summary of the history of coupons.

Posted by Linda