Landscape for Print and Digital Promotions Continues to Shift     

By Jack Grant

Finding the best face value for their product area is key for marketers of food and non-food brands looking to gain advantage with coupon-savvy shoppers.

In addition, say officials at Kantar Media, CPG brands have also been increasing activity around unique and exciting offers like BOGO, free product, digital feature price and digital rebates. As brands seek new ways to engage with consumers, it’s important to know which offer types and messages will resonate within specific CPG sectors.

Such advice was part of Kantar’s annual analysis of promotion trends to see where the industry is headed. Within this analysis, Year End 2019 print data includes Free Standing Insert (FSI), Consumer Magazines and Sunday Magazines. Year End 2019 digital data includes all websites except

In 2019, 214 billion print coupons distributed $460 billion in purchase incentives across 129 billion pages. Looking at digital promotions, there were 8.7 billion print coupons “clipped,” $15 billion in purchase incentives “clipped” and 2.4 billion coupon pages viewed.

The FSI is still king within print (accounting for 99.5% of print coupons distributed) and across promotion, However, Kantar noted that the promotion landscape is shifting with the continued rise of digital. Overall print promotion activity saw a decrease of -11.5% in 2019, while overall digital activity increased +9.7% to 8.7 billion coupons “clipped”.

In digital rebates, these increases are even more pronounced with 22 of the top 100 manufacturers increasing coupons “clipped” by more than +100% YoY. In digital, only nine of the top 100 manufacturers saw similar increases and in FSI the number was only six.

Non-food accounted for 76% of print coupons distributed, -9.7% YoY. This decrease was driven by personal care which declined by -11.7 billion coupons dropped YoY.

Print food distribution also decreased in 2019 by -16.9%, driven by dry grocery which declined by -7.5 million coupons dropped YoY.

All digital food areas saw increases in 2019, but the single greatest driver of the increase came from dry grocery (+384 million coupons “clipped” YoY). Food accounted for 62% of all coupons “clipped” in digital and showed an overall increase of +13% YoY.

Digital non-food also showed an increase YoY of +5.2% driven by all areas except other packaged goods, with the largest increase coming from household products.

Kantar said the continued growth of digital couponing emphasizes the need for CPG brands to maintain an appropriate media mix in order to compete within the promotion landscape.

Here is more of Kantar’s analysis:

  • Incentives: Despite decreases in distribution, incentives were on the rise in both Print and Digital in 2019. Overall print Weighted Average Face Value (WAFV) increased +$0.11 from $2.04 to $2.15, while overall digital incentives increased +$0.04 from $1.64 to $1.68.

  • Expiration: Expiration length decreased slightly from 5.4 weeks to 5.1 weeks in print and from 4 weeks to 3.8 weeks in digital. Print food had the longest expiration length of any sector, driven by frozen products, refrigerated foods, and dry grocery. Print non-food and digital expiration lengths decreased slightly.

  • Web Traffic Rank: was the top website for coupons, leading by a large margin averaging 5.3 million unique visitors per month, followed by with 1.1 million unique visitors per month.

  • Digital Properties: 75% of all digital coupons “clipped” in 2019 were captured on retailer properties where distribution increased +1 billion coupons “clipped” YoY. Distribution declined on all other property types, including network flagships (-211m coupons “clipped” YoY) which made up 22% of digital coupons “clipped”.

  • New Products: Digital food was the leader in new products and the only sector to increase YoY with 1,836 new products launched in 2019 (+210 new products YoY). Digital continues to be the preferred vehicle for New Product promotion with the food sector accounting for 75% of all digital new products launched in 2019.

  • Seasonality: Non-Food dominates print promotion, while food activity is stronger in digital. On aggregate, the months with the highest activity were January and April, while the lowest volume months were February and December.

  • BOGO/Free Product: In 2019, BOGO/Free Product activity increased in all sectors except print non-food. The print food increase was driven by shelf stable beverages (+182 million coupons dropped YoY) while digital food increase was driven by dry grocery (+15.4% YoY) and shelf stable beverages (+21.6% YoY). The print non-food decrease was driven by personal care (-375 million coupons dropped YoY).

  • Digital Feature Price: In 2019, Kantar captured over 4,000 Digital Feature Price events on retailer websites. Digital Feature Price offers appear only on retailer websites and feature a sale or discounted price point rather than a redeemable coupon. 85% of Digital Feature Price events were in food (+1% YoY).

  • Digital Rebates: In 2019, Digital Rebates accounted for 822 million coupons “clipped” (+0.3% YoY) and were responsible for 8% of all digital coupons “clipped.” Overall WAFVs in digital rebates increased +37.2% YoY, driven by non-food where other packaged goods saw incredible incentive growth (+$8.52 YoY to $11.44). Similar to 2018, digital rebate activity in 2019 peaked ahead of Back to School, driven by Food. However in 2019, we also saw greater alignment between food and non-food activity throughout the year – a sign that brands are identifying key weeks and fine-tuning their digital rebate strategy around what works.

  • Creative Messaging: In the second half of 2019, Kantar captured QR Codes at least 5 times in FSI creatives which were primarily utilized by Home and Beauty brands. We also saw CPG brands increasingly using FSI creatives to highlight social responsibility messages as a way of engaging shoppers – particularly around the environment and gender. These messages were most commonly seen among Beauty brands.

While the popularity of digital coupons is rising, print coupons still represent a larger percentage of overall usage, particularly in non-food areas. Understanding the complexities of the print and digital landscape continues to be an invaluable tool in determining the best promotion strategy for CPG brands, according to Kantar.

                                               Early April 2020
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