Kroger is winding down a popular coupon policy in one region, just as it wraps up an unprecedented coupon offer in all regions. For shoppers in southwestern Ohio and northern Kentucky, tomorrow is the last day that Kroger stores will double coupons (read: “Kroger Offers New Lower Prices! Oh, And No More Double Coupons”). Meanwhile, today is the last day you can load digital Kroger coupons that can be used, through Saturday, up to five times in a single transaction.
Ok, so strictly speaking, being able to use a digital coupon five times is not quite a “quintuple coupon”. But it’s still extremely noteworthy – though it may not bode well for other Kroger regions that still do offer double coupons.
Kroger announced earlier this month that it would eliminate double coupons in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas effective March 1. Customers howled in protest, just as they did in Texas when Kroger implemented the same policy there a couple of years earlier, and just as others have when other stores have stopped doubling coupons (read: “The Death of Doubles?”). But this time, Kroger softened the blow by accompanying its no-more-doubles announcement with a “New Lower Prices” campaign, though some questioned whether lower prices would really offset the lack of extra coupon savings (read: “When ‘New Low Prices’ Are Neither New, Nor Low (For Long)”).
Part of the reason for doing away with doubles, Kroger said, was that digital coupons were becoming more popular. “Kroger data for our area indicates coupon shopping is changing,” the Cincinnati/Dayton Division’s Customer Communications Manager Rachael Betzler said in a news release. “The increased use of digital coupons emphasizes how customers will continue to realize significant savings shopping Kroger.”
Critics of digital coupons, though, have complained that they don’t offer “significant savings” at all. Digital coupons don’t double, even if your store’s paper coupons do. They can’t be combined with paper manufacturer’s coupons. And virtually all digital coupons can be loaded and used just once – no matter how many of the same product you buy. The mere suggestion that some coupons might be able to be reloaded after using them once (read: “Did Digital Coupons Just Get Much, Much Better?”), has made some couponers salivate at the possibilities – multiple transactions, with a quick pause in between to reload a coupon on your mobile phone.
Now Kroger has answered that argument, with its two-week Daytona “Fast Track to Savings” promotion. During the campaign at Kroger and all of its affiliated stores, certain digital coupons could be clipped and used on up to five like items in a single transaction – no need to jump through hoops to reload a coupon in between multiple transactions. The coupons must be loaded by today, and can be used through Saturday.
Kroger spokesman Keith Dailey refused to comment on whether the multiple-use Daytona digital coupons were a one-time offer, or a sign of things to come. Kroger is a digital coupon pioneer, and the country’s largest traditional grocery chain, so anything it does is likely to be closely watched by others. If Kroger, its competitors and manufacturers were to eventually allow all digital coupons to be used more than just once, it could prove to be a game-changer, for couponers who’ve been slow to warm up to single-use digital offers. Though it could also offer Kroger a rationale to discontinue double coupons in other areas, in exchange for making its digital coupons more generous.
For now, the current multiple-use digital coupons are about to expire, along with double coupons in many Kroger stores. Whether Kroger can keep bringing in double-coupon-loving customers with the promise of lower prices and better digital coupons instead, remains to be seen.