[koo-pon, kyoo-]
In marketing a coupon is a ticket or document that can be exchanged for a financial discount or rebate when purchasing a product. Customarily, coupons are issued by manufacturers of consumer packaged goods or by retailers, to be used in retail stores as a part of sales promotions. They are often widely distributed through mail, magazines, newspapers, the Internet, and mobile devices such as cell phones. Internet coupons have become popular recently, because there is no postal cost, and the printing cost is borne by the user (who prints the coupons) rather than the businesses issuing them. Mobile coupons have emerged as a new and green alternative as no printing is required whatsoever. Mobile coupons as a method of coupon redemption are gaining in popularity as more consumers utilize their mobile devices for uses beyond voice.


In 1887, the Coca-Cola Company was incorporated with Asa Griggs Candler as one of the partners. He transformed Coca-Cola from an insignificant tonic into a profitable business by using innovative advertising techniques. The key to this growth was Candler's ingenious marketing including having the company's employees and sales representatives distribute complimentary coupons for Coca-Cola. Coupons were mailed to potential customers and placed in magazines. The company gave soda fountains free syrup to cover the costs of the free drinks. It is estimated that between 1894 and 1913 one in nine Americans had received a free Coca-Cola, for a total of 8,500,000 free drinks. By 1895 Candler announced to shareholders that Coca-Cola was served in every state in the United States.


Coupons first saw widespread use in the United States in 1909 when C. W. Post conceived the idea to help sell breakfast cereals and other products. Today, more than 700 corporations offer coupons for discounts on products or services. Each year, coupons generate more than 8 billion dollars in transactions within the U.S. alone.

There are many different types of online coupons such as discounts, free shipping, first-time customer coupons, and free giveaways.

Other Uses

In finance, with respect to bonds, a coupon is the interest rate that the issuer pays to the bond holders.

In manufacturing and materials science, a coupon is a small piece of material used for testing or further processing, compare billet.

"Football pools" promoters in the United Kingdom also use this name when referring to the paper grids which gamblers fill in to bet on the results of football (soccer) fixtures. On these, players will mark a number of crosses (x) against individual game listings to indicate which they believe will end as a draw, or tied match. Rewards for correct forecasting can be of very high monetary value.

Internet coupons

Online retailers often refer to Internet coupons as "coupon codes," "promotional codes," "promotion codes," "discount codes," "key codes," "promo codes," "shopping codes," "voucher codes" or "source codes." Internet coupons typically provide for reduced cost or free shipping, a specific dollar or percentage discount, or some other offer to encourage consumers to purchase specific products or to purchase from specific retailers. Although online coupon sites have been around for a while, they are now making a come-back due to the weak economy.

Manufacturers and retailers also consider Internet coupons to be those that resemble traditional offline coupons, but can be printed from a user's computer and redeemed in-store. Some of these Internet coupons employ print-controls and other security technologies in order to mitigate coupon fraud risks unique to online channels (postings to "freebie" sites, unlimited prints, etc.).

Printable coupons have been both a blessing to consumers and a curse for retailers. For several years, printable coupon fraud was rampant because the technology was behind the concept and users were savvy about saving coupons to PDF files. Saving coupon files to PDF is considered fraudulent use of coupons and goes against the manufacturer's intention behind issuing the coupon. These days, printable coupons are easier and safer to print, but that doesn't ease the rules for some retailers who've opted not to accept them anymore.

Another movement is to see local coupons brought to users online. This is giving small local businesses better online exposure to communities across the world.


The word is of French origin, , in Britain and Canada it is "COO-pon". A common alternate American pronunciation is /ˈkjuːpɒn/ "CUE-pon".


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