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Remke Double Coupons

It certainly seems like double coupons are an endangered species lately. This year alone, four Kroger regions, plus Kroger-owned Dillons and Gerbes, as well as non-Kroger stores Meijer and Marsh, have announced that they’re doing away with doubles. Most believe it’s only a matter of time before other Kroger regions follow suit (read: “Kroger Confirms: All Doubles May Be Doomed”). And some more of Kroger’s competitors may jump on board the no-doubles bandwagon in response. Is the once-popular promotion nearing its expiration date?

According to a recent survey from the market research company Packaged Facts, 47% of all shoppers reported using coupons during their last grocery trip, and 11% used “coupon matching services”, such as double coupons. At first glance, that would appear to support Kroger and Meijer’s contention that very few people (as few as 5%, Kroger has claimed) take advantage of double coupons, so all the more reason to get rid of them. But then the 11% figure incorporates all shoppers, including those whose stores don’t double at all. So the number would be higher if the question was, would you use a “coupon matching service” if your store provided it?

So it appears the practice may be more popular than the double coupon foes may be leading us to believe. And one uniquely-positioned grocery chain knows that for a fact.

The small, family-owned, 13-store Cincinnati chain Remke bigg’s competes in its market with Kroger, Meijer and Marsh-owned MainStreet Market – three chains that no longer (or, in Meijer’s case, soon will no longer) double coupons. Remke bigg’s does double, and reports that about 15% of its shoppers take advantage of the service.

And now, it has a choice. It can go along with the crowd and eliminate doubles as well, relieved that it no longer has to match what its competitors are doing. Or it can keep double coupons as a way to differentiate itself from the others.

Remke bigg’s has chosen the latter.

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“There are no plans to discontinue the program,” Remke spokesperson Connie Flynn told Coupons in the News. “Our customers are very happy that we continue to offer double coupons, and we always welcome the opportunity to serve new customers.”

Sounds like Remke might be making a bid for disaffected double-coupon-loving Kroger, Meijer and Marsh customers who are vowing never to shop there again. In March, when Cincinnati-area Kroger stores did away with doubles (read: “Kroger Offers New Lower Prices! Oh, And No More Double Coupons”), Remke held a special, one-day-only “super doubles” promotion. Instead of doubling up to $.50 as usual, Remke doubled coupons up to $1. The goal, Flynn said at the time, was to “remind the community that we will continue to keep double coupons as part of our everyday benefits.”

Fast forward five months, when Meijer announced this week that it would be ending double coupons (read: “We Are the 5%: Meijer Fans Protest Double Coupon Decision”), Remke posted a not-so-subtle message on its Facebook page: “Show of hands: Who loves Double Coupons?” Plenty of its fans said they do. “Thanks Remke for keeping double coupons when every other store is dropping them!” wrote one commenter. “Love that you’re looking out for the consumer in hard times,” said another. “Your stores will pick up sooo much business,” predicted a third.

“We have always been very sensitive to our customer needs and requests,” Flynn said. “As a local, family-owned business, we certainly value being able to offer a unique benefit to the community in a highly competitive industry.” Remke has been doubling coupons for a good 30 years or so, she added.

Will it still be doubling 30 years from now? No one knows, of course. But, despite the fact that some claim double coupons are too costly to retailers, you could argue that offering double coupons will only get less expensive in time. A Dillons spokesperson told Coupons in the News this week that less than a third of the coupons available in last Sunday’s newspaper would have doubled at all, since their face values were so high (read: “Dillons Ditches Double Coupons”). That’s because, in the four decades since double coupons debuted (read: “Couponing at 40: Double the Coupons, Double the Fun”), many stores have never raised the upper limit on which coupons they will double. Doubling coupons up to 50 cents was nice, when the majority of coupons were valued under 50 cents. Now that the majority are worth more than that, double coupons arguably have become more meaningless than expensive. So eliminating them could be less about saving money, and more about not wanting to reinvest in the program by raising the limit and making “super doubles” the new normal.

So perhaps double coupons will indeed, someday, become a vague memory, as stores invest their promotional dollars in digital coupons, fuel rewards and personalized offers instead. On the other hand, in all the years double coupons have been around, this isn’t the first time they’ve come under siege. Many stores that have done away with them in the past, have eventually come around and offered them again (read: “Double Coupons: Dying Like Dinosaurs?”). If no one else in a particular market is doubling coupons, then what better way is there to stand out from the competition than by offering double coupons?

That’s what Remke is betting on. So fear not, reports of doubles’ demise may be premature. At least double coupon fans – and Remke – can hope.

2 Comments

  1. If as the claim so few people take advantage of double coupons why get rid of it?

  2. Both Stop & Shop and Shaw’s in Massachusetts double coupons. More interestingly, this used to be a fairly hidden thing that they just did with no real fanfare; as I was teaching couponing I had to repeat it a lot and I still got questions. In the last 4 weeks, though, the weekly circulars have both made a big deal out of the fact they double.

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