The estimated 80 percent of shoppers who don't clip coupons could end up getting a share of the savings anyway, thanks to a new machine installed by several Baltimore-area grocery and drugstore chains.
Actmedia, a Norwalk, Conn.-based marketing company, has just begun a nationwide introduction of its Instant Coupon Machine, a bright red dispenser with flashing red lights that will spit out manufacturer's coupons at the push of a button.
According to Actmedia, Basics and Super Fresh grocery stores and Drug Emporium, CVS, Peoples, Revco and F&M Distributors drugstores are among the Baltimore-area chains that either have installed or plan to install the machines.
The region's largest grocery chain, Giant Food, has passed on the idea. Barry Scher, a spokesman for Giant, said the company already has a similar program that distributes coupons as the customer goes through the checkout line.
Pat Harris, senior vice president of Actmedia, said the machines initially will be installed at 5,000 grocery stores and 5,000 drugstores. He said the company is limiting each store to 10 machines.
Mr. Harris said pilot programs show that the redemption rate for coupons dispensed through the Instant Coupon Machines approaches 20 percent, compared with a typical rate of 2 percent for coupons distributed through newspaper inserts.
"It's the only thing we know that's putting the product, the shopper and the incentive together," he said.
Lee Easton, vice president for merchandising of Super Fresh, said the machines are up and running in some stores and are "being very well received" by customers.