Coupon use saved consumers $2.9 billion on packaged goods in 2012 with over 90 million Americans using online coupons. Besides saving money, why is coupon use so widespread? An experiment was run where participants (N = 90) shopped online and one‐half received a coupon worth $10. It was found that those who received a coupon had a 14% increase in oxytocin (OT), an 8% decrease in the stress hormone adrenocorticotropin, a 4% decrease in heart rate (HR), a 27% decrease in respiration, a 4% decrease in skin conductance levels, and a 90% increase in high‐frequency HR variability. These factors showed almost no change for those who did not receive a coupon. The findings indicate that coupons elicit physiological reactions similar to having a positive social interaction. In addition, self‐reported happiness correlated with the change in OT (r = 0.43). These findings provide new insights into why online coupon use is so pervasive.
Psychology & Marketing – Wiley
Published: Sep 1, 2015