Scientific Study Shows Coupons Can Help Take the Stress out of Holiday Shopping
Mountain View, CA – November 19, 2012 – Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Coupons.com, the recognized leader in digital coupons, and well-known scientist and prolific author, Dr. Paul J. Zak, a Professor of Neuroeconomics at Claremont Graduate University, today announced the results of the first known research study on the physiological and psychological effects of coupons. The scientific research shows that oxytocin, a hormone that is directly related to love and happiness, spikes when people receive a coupon, and, in fact, increases more than when people receive a gift. The data shows that coupons make consumers happier and more relaxed, underscoring that the holidays don’t have to be as stressful as people think.
The study, “Your Brain on Coupons: Neurophysiology of Couponing” is the first known scientific research performed in a laboratory setting measuring the physiological and psychological effects of coupons on the human body. The study, expected to be formally published in the coming months, is based on research conducted by Dr. Zak and his team at Claremont, who are widely credited for popularizing neuroeconomics and studying the effects of oxytocin. Dr. Zak’s team looked at the neurologic effects of couponing to find out what really happens when people receive a savings offer, such as a coupon or coupon code.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy: Oxytocin on the Rise
During the study, some participants received a $10 coupon while grocery shopping online while others did not. The findings resoundingly show that women who received coupons during the study had significantly higher levels of oxytocin and dramatically reduced stress. Key findings include:
Higher Oxytocin Levels. Up 38 percent, this marked response is higher than levels associated with receiving a gift and other social interactions related to this hormone that is known to be associated with happiness.
Decreased Stress. Coupons were associated with reductions in several different measures of stress in the heart, skin, and breathing in those who received a coupon over those who did not. Specifically:
• Respiration rates fell 32 percent compared to those who did not get a coupon.
• Heart rates dropped 5 percent from 73 beats per minute to 70 beats per minute.
• Sweat levels on the palms of the hands were 20 times lower for those who received a coupon.
Find Your Happy Place. Those who received coupons were 11 percent happier than those participants who did not get coupons.
• This was measured by participants rating how happy they were on a scale from 1 to 10 at the end of the experiment. This research, coupled with existing data, shows that happiness is dependent on a person’s physiological state and that social activities that relax us, like coupons, make us happier.
“The study proves that not only are people who get a coupon happier, less stressed and experience less anxiety, but also that getting a coupon—as hard as it is to believe—is physically shown to be more enjoyable than getting a gift,” said Dr. Paul J. Zak, the founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies and Professor of Economics, Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University. “These results, combined with the findings of other research, suggest that coupons can directly impact happiness of people, promote positive health and increase the ability to handle stressful situations, all of which is particularly valuable as we head into the holiday season when stress levels tend to be at an all-time high.
The Neurophysiology of Coupons study was conducted by Dr. Paul Zak a renowned professor of Neuroeconomics (a field that combines economics with biology, neuroscience, and psychology) at Claremont University between October 26 – November 5, 2012 on behalf of Coupons.com. In the study, half of the participants in an online shopping study were given coupons while the other half were not, and measurements were recorded on everything from stress and respiration to perspiration levels. Effects of the coupon were evaluated through multiple measures—including the level of hormones in the blood, cardiac activity (using an electrocardiogram), respiration and perspiration (similar to a polygraph test) and mood relating to the receipt of coupons. The physiologic data was acquired one thousand times a second to compare participants’ responses to coupons to those who did not receive coupons. The hormone data, taken before and after shopping (with and without coupons), complements the physiologic data to determine the overall social experience of using coupons. The experiment was approved by the Institutional Review Board of Claremont Graduate University. Participants were paid for participating in the study, and participants who received a coupon were paid the face value of the discount. All results reported above are statistically significant at standard levels.
About Coupons.com Incorporated
Coupons.com Incorporated is the recognized leader in digital coupons, including online printable, save to loyalty card and mobile promotions. For consumers, the company’s products include Coupons.com, the 48th largest website in the U.S. †, as well as Grocery iQ and Coupons.com mobile applications. For brand marketers, the company distributes digital coupons to millions of consumers through Coupons.com and tens of thousands of websites comprising the Coupons.com digital coupon network. The company also powers digital coupon initiatives in 1-to-1 online marketing campaigns—including display advertising, email and social media programs. For publishers, the company offers solutions to monetize website traffic, including branded microsites, and Brandcaster, a self-service coupons syndication platform. Clients include hundreds of top consumer packaged goods brands (including Clorox, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, Kimberly-Clark, and Kraft Foods), leading restaurant, toy and entertainment companies, as well as top retailers (such as A&P, CVS, Duane Reade, H-E-B, Kmart, Kroger, Safeway and Walgreens). Founded in 1998, the company is based in Mountain View, CA. To start printing coupons, visit www.coupons.com. To learn more about the company visit www.couponsinc.com. Visit Coupons.com on Facebook at www.facebook.com/couponscom.
About Paul J. Zak and Claremont Graduate University
Paul J. Zak is a scientist, prolific author, entrepreneur, and public speaker. He is the founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies and Professor of Economics, Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Zak also serves as Professor of Neurology at Loma Linda University Medical Center. Dr. Zak’s lab discovered in 2004 that the brain chemical oxytocin allows us to determine who to trust. His current research has shown that oxytocin is responsible for virtuous behaviors, working as the brain’s ”moral molecule.” This knowledge is being used to understand the basis for civilization and modern economies, improve negotiations, and treat patients with neurologic and psychiatric disorders. Dr. Zak’s work has been funded by the United States National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, other public agencies and private foundations. His book The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity was published in 2012 and was a finalist for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize.
† Nielsen, August 2012