Although Americans saw their first coupons in 1887, it was much slower to catch on in other parts of the world. The first coupon didn't come out until 1986 in Australia, when Shop-A-Docket started printing them on the back of their receipts. Even today there are troubles with using coupons on gourmet beverages like wine and beer when you order online in the U.S., Canada, and most of Europe. Canada's most successful coupon program, Canadian Tire Money, started in 1958 and is still going strong today. It's often referred to as 'the other Canadian currency' or 'Canada's Funny Money'. It's so popular that counterfeiting is a real concern, in the mid-90's a man was caught trying to enter the country with 11,000,000 in counterfeit Canadian Tire money!

coupons around the world

But are Americans still the biggest coupon users in the world today? No actually, China has edged them out with a reported 67% of households using coupons to save money and the United States coming in at a reported 66% according to Nielsen. Other notable coupon users are Hong Kong at 65%, Belgium and Portugal at 63%, South Korea at 62%, Vietnam at 61%, Croatia at 57%, and Greece and Hungary at 55%. In the Asian countries most of the coupons are straightforward price cut promotions that consumers get from the mail or newspapers. Why don't we see a lot of coupon use in northern and Eastern Europe? It seems that a lot of European retailers are reluctant to use them as a marketing tool. Within the US, people in the Northeast region are the most likely to seek out a deal using coupons.

While overall coupon use might be slightly higher in China, Americans are still the champions at getting the most bang for thier buck when using coupons. The show Extreme Couponing is a, well, extreme example and should be taken with a grain of salt (remember, even so-called 'reality' shows are meant to be entertrainment first and foremost), but a lot of people make a hobby out of couponing. In fact it is interesting to note that the biggest user group of coupons is affluent suburbanites, typically people who make $70,000 or more annually. They didn't give a reason for why this might be, but some speculation is that it could be that the coupons offered are for products more typically purchased by that group, or that they have more time to collect and sort coupons and visit the stores that will redeem them.

Ever heard of a coupon swap? They are local meetups, often held at churches, libraries, or other public spaces. You can bring your unwanted coupons and trade them for ones for products that you will use. Most of the people who attend this type of event are the die-hard couponers, armed with their 3-ring binders and plastic divider sheets to store and organize their coupons.

The other interesting point to note is that women are way more likely to redeem coupons than men are, at least in the United States. They are also more likely to be swayed to purchase something if it is on sale than a man is. People are also more likely to purchase something online using a coupon because it is cheaper, and more convenient to shop at home in your PJs.

What about you? Do you use a lot of coupons and does a coupon affect your decision to buy something or not?