Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Coupons Use `Double Nickel' Promotion

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Coupons Use `Double Nickel' Promotion

Article excerpt

By Stuart Elliott

N.Y. Times News Service

A promotional ploy that can save consumers nickels is turning to the "double nickel."

For those whose recollection of citizens' band radio argot has grown hazy, double nickel is the number 55, as in the speed limit of 55 miles an hour. It is also a number being seen more frequently as a face value on the estimated 310 billion cents-off coupons distributed each year in print media and by mail.

Giant marketers like Clorox, Colgate-Palmolive, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft General Foods, RJR Nabisco and Warner-Lambert are sponsoring coupons that offer the odd sum of 55 cents off their packaged foods, health and beauty aids, pantry staples and other products.

From A.1. steak sauce to Wish-Bone Healthy Sensation! salad dressing, the 55-cent denomination has joined a veritable numismatist's delight of face values that climb in 5-cent increments from a dime to a dollar.

There are several reasons why coupons can be redeemed for 55 cents off a brand rather than for more prosaic sums like a quarter or 50 cents. Some turn out to be simple; one is less so.

The simple reasons first. One is "obvious," said Lynn Liddle, a spokeswoman for Valassis Communications Inc. of Livonia, Mich., which publishes the Valassis Inserts coupon sheets found in Sunday newspapers. "Fifty-five cents is better than 50 cents," she noted.

That truism is important because coupon redemption rates generally rise as face value rises. And redemption rates have stagnated in recent years as consumers grow jaded with promotional practices like coupons.

A survey by CMS Inc., a coupon research company in Winston-Salem, N.C., found that during the first quarter of 1993, redemptions were flat compared with the comparable period a year earlier. So if a coupon is worth more, the additional savings _ even if only a nickel _ may be enough to entice a reluctant shopper to clip, sort, save and use it.

A second simple reason for the proliferation is that 55 cents is a face value with novelty value. That is reinforced by the mnemonic device of "55" being the speed limit. …

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