Coupon program gives students access to local deals, discounts

Story by Alex Zank

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By Alex Zank


Students love saving money, especially when it comes to the end of the month, and they know that big rent check is about to be taken out of their bank accounts. But that doesn’t change the fact that they’re hungry for something other than Ramen noodles.

Now, with AroundCampus.com, students in Eau Claire — as well as college towns across the country —  can find city-specific deals geared toward their interests, like eating out at their favorite restaurants.

University Directories, based out of Chapel Hill, N.C., is responsible for AroundCampus, a national couponing website. The site even has an app for students with smartphones. According to Justin Plant, a regional manager for University Directories, AroundCampus is meant to create more convenience for students wishing to use those coupons.

“In the student planners and student directories, or any of those books where coupons are printed, you’ll find those coupons on the app,” Plant said. “So it’s a lot easier to access them on the go.”

Plant said that large brands such as Adobe and Cinnabon as well as many local businesses participate in AroundCampus.

Sam Almadhoun, owner of Water Street Deli and Grocery said he uses AroundCampus along with social media advertising because it targets the audience to which his business caters.

“I get a lot of students that come in with the coupons,” Almadhoun said, adding that he thinks coupons are great for students as well as the local economy.

Plant said that AroundCampus is different from competitors like Groupon because it is not a “deal of the day” type of program. The coupons it offers are good all year long.

Junior Caitlin Bittner said that although she rarely uses them, the idea of a mobile app for coupons is a good one for students.

“If [the coupon offer] is on a mobile app, it’s there whenever you need it or want it,” Bittner said.

Economics professor Fred Kolb said that coupons work as a form of price discrimination, which is a method businesses use to offer special pricing to – in this case – students who are more price sensitive than other consumers due to their lower income.

Kolb said the goal of coupons is to limit them to a target demographic. Although the availability of coupons on the internet and a mobile device does mean that virtually anyone can access them, it does not mean that everyone will, Kolb said.

“What [the businesses] are able to do by having it freely available is to get a bigger pool of those people that are price sensitive,” Kolb said.

Kolb said this leads to more students utilizing the coupons, while the people that originally were willing to pay full price won’t bother with accessing them.

Even though Bittner thinks AroundCampus adds convenience for students, she said that whether or not Eau Claire students will use it is a toss-up.

If students choose not to download the AroundCampus app, Plant said the fact remains that the ability to access coupons for nearby businesses is a great way for students to save money.

“There are days you might forget to wear underwear, but you will certainly have your phone with you,” said Plant.

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