Monday, April 18, 2011

A Hollow Victory for Computers

Not to alarm you, but in case you hadn't noticed, since the mid-90s computers have gradually been taking over various aspects of our lives, one by one. First there was music with CDs having all but been eradicated and record stores falling like dominoes in the path of the mighty mp3. Then there was print journalism with long established, giants of the newspaper and magazine world folding like cards before the insidious convenience of finding out what's going on through Yahoo news.

Well new data has emerged this week that the virtual world has quietly conquered yet another aspect of our lives. Online researchers Knowledge Networks conducted a panel on coupon usage between 2008 and 2010. The panel of some 23 million shoppers revealed findings that were overwhelmingly in favor of the computer.

It seems that in the coupon world digital coupons you print out yourself are far more likely to encourage people to buy things they wouldn't have than standard coupons that come already printed. According to the findings digital coupons also encourage more first time users to try new products despite being less cost-effective than standard coupons.

The coupons are less cost-effective because print at home coupons have a greater overhead for the individual consumer than standard coupons which are cheap enough for retailers to product and distribute and cost consumers absolutely nothing. So ironically the savings offered by a majority of print yourself coupons are ultimately mitigated by the overhead of printer ink and paper costs. So while it may be another victory for the digital world, in this case it's something of a hollow one.

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