For years, discount coupons have fattened Sunday newspapers and clogged mailboxes. But since only a tiny fraction of coupons are redeemed, the companies that make packaged goods such as cigarettes, toiletries, and prepared foods began wondering if they were worth the trouble. So in 1996, Procter & Gamble Co. sought an answer. In a Rochester (N.Y.) test, it simply stopped offering coupons.
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