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The Web-coupon craze continues

Longs Drugs and America Online are two of the newest participants in the Web coupon trend.

February 19, 1999
Web posted at: 7:01 p.m. EST (0001 GMT)

by Tom Diederich

(IDG) -- Longs Drug Stores Corp., one of the nation's leading drug chains, is hoping to cash in on consumers who clip their coupons from the Internet. In a separate announcement, America Online Inc. is hoping to do the same.

Longs yesterday said it was partnering with San Francisco-based Planet U Inc. to offer promotional savings on national brand-name goods. Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Longs, which has 382 stores in six western states, said the convenience of "coupon clicking" will eliminate the hassle of clipping coupons for shoppers at its brick-and-mortar locations.

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Visitors to the Longs Web site choose the products they are interested in and then receive the coupons through the mail, a spokesperson said.

Planet U said its "U-pons" have generated redemption rates that exceed 20% on a variety of national brands at supermarket chains The Kroger Co., Ukrop's and Dick's Supermarkets. Traditional coupons, on the other hand, have average redemption rates under 2% , according to the company.

In a similar move yesterday, Supermarkets Online Inc. announced a deal with AOL to offer its ValuePage coupons to AOL users. Supermarkets Online, in St. Petersburg, Fla., asks visitors to submit their zip codes and then offers a list of supermarkets in their area that accept its coupons. But instead of waiting for the mail to be delivered, users can print coupons complete with bar codes from their PCs.

Ken Cassar, an analyst at Jupiter Communications Inc. in New York, said online coupons do drive price-sensitive brick-and-mortar consumers to Web sites. And the price cuts don't subtract from the companies' bottom line, he added, because the manufacturers subsidize them.

"It certainly plays well into today's Internet population, which can certainly be defined as a community of cheapskates," Cassar added. "And I think it will also be welcomed by retailers who are looking for subsidization of the Web cheapskate."

The AOL and Longs announcements are the two most recent examples of the coupon trend. and, two online coupon sites, garnered more than 1.8 million visitors in December.

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