Skip the Newspapers. These 42 Brands Will Send You Coupons Just for Asking
We particularly like coupons for food because it’s one of the only things you pretty much have to buy in this world. (Personally, if I have food, shelter, clothing and caffeine, I’m good.) That’s why you’ll never catch us at the supermarket without coupons.
That got us to thinking: What would happen if we contacted food manufacturers directly and asked them for coupons? How many brands will send coupons if you just ask nicely?
In the name of research, I reached out to various gigantic food mega-corporations like Kraft, Kellogg’s, Nestle, Nabisco, Post, Tyson and General Mills.
I went to the websites of Dannon, Dial, Dole, Downy, Del Monte and Duncan Hines. I asked Welch’s, Windex, Whiskas and Wonder Bread. I wrote to Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, and to 7-Up and 9 Lives.
I reached out to 100 brands. I got back more than $120 worth of coupons.
How I Buttered Up Companies and Sang Their Praises
During this process, I never mentioned I was writing for The Penny Hoarder. I just gave my name, and email and mailing addresses. That’s me — Joe Blow, Average Citizen.
I followed the example of the diligent couponers over at Couponers United, who have made an art of this. Here’s their advice on asking companies for coupons: “When you email them, try to stay positive, offer them advice, or simply tell them how much your family loves their products.”
Couponers United maintains a list of nearly 200 companies that its members have gotten coupons from this way. I tried the same technique, but I didn’t have quite the same success.
Of the 100 brands I reached out to, 26 mailed me coupons. Another 16 directed me to webpages where I could print out their coupons.
Once I navigated to each company’s website, I would find its “Contact Us” page. There, I would type in some version of the following:
Our family loves (your product) and we use it in our home nearly every day. (OR, we eat it all the time.) Do you ever put out coupons that could help offset the cost of your fine product?
What the Process was Like
I found all of this to be surprisingly time-consuming, even though I was writing basically the same praises to each brand. Contacting 100 brands took many, many hours.
When asking for my feedback, every brand’s website wanted to know my age and gender. They all wanted my name, address and email address. Over and over again, I had to pass online CAPTCHA tests to prove I wasn’t a robot.
Seriously, brands, I’m not a robot.
My suggestion: Limit yourself to contacting brands whose products you’re absolutely, positively, definitely going to use. Anything else is a waste of time.
Here are the results of my inquiries broken into categories.
Brands That Sent Me Coupons in the Mail
After I whispered sweet nothings in their ears, 26% of the brands mailed me coupons. Even better: Most of these manufacturer’s coupons won’t expire for nearly a year.
- The clear champions were my friends at SC Johnson, who make basically every product in your house. The company mailed me a bonanza of 17 $1 off coupons for products by Drano, Fantastik, Glade, Off!, Pledge, Raid, Scrubbing Bubbles, Shout, Windex and Ziploc.
- Runners-up were my good buddies at Unilever, a massive multinational consumer goods company with 400 brands. After I wrote to several of its brands, Unilever mailed me 11 coupons for a total of $11 off products by Axe, Country Crock, Dove, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Magnum Ice Cream, Pond’s, TRESemme Hair Care and Vaseline.
Unilever! Who knew?
- Blue Diamond mailed six $1 off coupons for its various almond or cracker products.
- Schick sent three $2 off coupons for any of its razors or disposable razor packs.
- Edy’s sent four coupons for a total of nearly $5 off its products.
- The J.M. Smucker Co. mailed two coupons for $1.50 off Meow Mix cat food and two coupons for 35 cents off Jif peanut butter.
- King’s Hawaiian sent a coupon for a free package of its rolls and another coupon for $1 off. It added yummy-looking recipes for French toast and mini baked ham sandwiches. And just like that, I’m hungry again.
- White House Foods, known chiefly for applesauce, sent four coupons — two for free White House products and two for 25 cents off. These won’t expire for nearly two years!
- After reaching out to a bunch of other brands, I got coupons for their products, with the savings from each brand totaling $3 or less: Beech-Nut, Blistex, Chobani, Dannon, Haagen-Dazs, Henkel (Right Guard deodorant), Hostess, Hot Pockets, Land O Lakes, Mars Petcare (Whiskas cat food), McCormick spices, Michelina’s, Pepperbridge Farm, Pinnacle Foods (Birds Eye), Post cereals, Red Rose tea, Tyson chicken, and Wells Blue Bunny.
Several of these companies said I could contact them again in six months to receive additional coupons.
Brands That Had Me Print Coupons on My Printer
Some companies sent me to my computer printer instead of my mailbox.
Kraft is the undisputed king of this method. At any given time, you can print coupons from its website for $1, $2 or $3 off products by Air Wick, Arm & Hammer, Edge, Excedrin, Garnier, Hefty, Hershey, Huggies, L’Oreal, McCafe, Purina, Skintimate, Speed Stick, Sudafed, Suave Kids, Tidy Cats, Tums, Venus or Visine, among others.
Procter & Gamble had me print out coupons for $1 or $2 off products by Bounce, Bounty, Cascade, Charmin, Crest, Gillette, Swiffer and Tide.
Bayer had me print coupons for $1 to $4 off Alka-Seltzer, Aleve or Miralax.
Here are coupons other brands directed me to print out:
- Coupons for a total of $5 off various Jennie O turkey products.
- $2 off Glade air fresheners.
- $1.50 off Cottonelle toilet paper.
- $1 off Charmin, Clearasil, Gevalia coffee, Hefty trash bags, Swanson chicken broth or Uncle Ben’s rice.
- 75 cents off Haagen-Dazs.
Brands That Said, ‘Go Look in the Newspaper’
“We sincerely regret that we have no coupons to send at this time,” my friends at Dannon Yogurt wrote back to me. “For your future convenience, we often promote our products through newspaper inserts. You may be able to find valuable coupons from your local Sunday newspaper.”
I got basically the same response from 7-Up, 9 Lives, Bic, Curel, Entenmann’s, General Mills, Lean Cuisine, Mott’s Applesauce, Nabisco, Ocean Spray, Sargento, Snapple, StarKist and Tropicana. Same with Georgia-Pacific, which makes six popular brands of paper towels and toilet paper.
Brands That Said, ‘Hey, Sign Up for Our Special Club’
“While we do not have coupons available upon request,” responded the people at Kashi cereals, “we encourage you to join our online community.”
It was the same story with Ball Park Franks, Clorox, Crayola, Dole, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, Neutrogena, Stonyfield Yogurt, Uncle Ben’s, Welch’s and Viva Paper Towels.
I was repeatedly invited to sign up for each brand’s insiders club or newsletter, which proposed to send me a stream of product updates, recipes, corporate-generated nutrition news and the possibility of downloadable coupons.
My inbox got a lot of emails like the following: “We invite you to join Folgers® Wakin’ Up Club for special promotions.”
“Please join Welch’s Grapevine Insider newsletter.”
Brands That Referred Me to Their Websites
Brands That Said, ‘We Just Can’t Afford it’
Bigelow Tea, a classic tea brand that’s been around since 1945, says it’s getting hammered with coupon requests these days.
“Recently we’ve experienced an astonishing increase in coupon & sample requests, with as much as one out of every two customers contacting us now asking for coupons and samples,” says its website. “We wish we could honor all requests, but as a small family company our ability to accommodate all of the wonderful consumers that contact us is beyond our means. We hope you will understand”
It’s OK, Bigelow Tea. We’re still cool. At least you’re super-polite about it.
Brands That Blew Me Off
Some brands simply didn’t respond at all. I won’t name them here. No hard feelings, Gorton’s Fish or Hawaiian Punch or Krusteaz.
You may have better luck with some of these companies. The website Couponers United, which inspired this experiment, has had more success with this strategy.
This was my personal experience after one round of reaching out to these brands. Like they say, your mileage may vary.
Me, I’m going to the grocery store now.
Your Turn: Have you ever written to a company to ask for coupons? Did you have any success?
Mike Brassfield (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He likes coupons.