Elisabeth Gilster De Velazquez, associate professor of marketing at Roanoke College in Salem, Va., says issuing coupons, whether they're for free burritos or buy-one-get-one-free French fries, hasn't been successful for chains on a regular basis.Indeed they are. I won't eat at Subway unless I like the $2.50 Daily Special. Arby's sees me once a month, the day after the coupon sheet arrives in the mail. Burger King? Are you joking?
"In the long run it's going to hurt them if they keep doing it," Velazquez says. "If you keep using them over time, your consumers are not going to want to pay full price again. They're going to get used to the reduced prices or the free stuff. You're conditioning your consumers to conceive that your product doesn't have the same value as it would at full price."
Stupidness comes at the end, though:
The benefit for consumers is, obviously, the free food. But Velazquez says they should be aware of the restaurant's ulterior motive, which is to get customers in the door to redeem those free-food coupons and, hopefully, bring their friends or buy other items on the menu.Isn't an "ulterior" motive a hidden, sneaky sort of motive? Giving away coupons is more than a little transparent.
After all, she said, "People love free stuff."