Landscape for Print and Digital Promotions Has Changed    

By Jack Grant

CPG companies will always need to include coupons and promotions as part of their marketing mix. But the growth of digital tactics has changed the landscape.

“There is no doubt that digital’s star is rising within the promotion landscape, but print and FSI continue to offer brands scale, thus stubbornly holding on to their dominant lead as marketers opt to be tactically focused when using print,” according to a coupon report from Kantar Media.

In its high-level overview of the coupon business, Kantar looked at areas of growth, stability and loss, the use of print, digital and rebate, and food vs. non-food CPGs.

In 2018, 244 billion print coupons distributed $497 billion in purchase incentives across 140 billion pages. Looking at digital promotions, there were 8.4 billion print coupons “clipped,” $14 billion in purchase incentives “clipped” and 4.5 billion coupon pages viewed.

“Purely on numbers and volume alone, the Free-Standing Insert (FSI) is still king within print and across promotion,” said the Kantar report. “This indicates that using print versus digital tactics is not an either/ or decision for brands, but is more about strategic choices about how much, when and where to activate in print.”

CPG accounted for 75% of the total FSI pages distributed – 23 percent decrease YoY. Even though total FSI pages declined last year, there are still a sizable amount of incentives offered to consumers each week. FSIs continue to be a valuable “opt-in” advertising vehicle to reach millions of households on a specific day to influence shoppers, drive trips and impact sales, especially for the CPG sector.

Meanwhile, digital coupons continued to grow. For example, there was a +12% increase in coupons “clipped,” but print coupons distributed declined by 12%.
Here is now Kantar summed up coupon performance in 2018:

  • Face Values: Non-Food has held steady YoY with only flat to nominal change. Food Face Values have increased in both print and digital. Most notably Shelf Stable Beverages in Print went from $1.33 to $1.59.

  • Expiration Weeks: Weighted Average Expiration weeks trended down as a whole for both Food and Non-Food. The only area to see an increase in print and digital was Cereals.

  • Top Websites: was the clear leader in 2018 for website traffic for coupons.

  • Properties: Retailer Properties represent nearly three-fourths of website prints. Along with Network Flagships, both showed YoY growth (+26% and +19%, respectively). Retailer Properties was also the only property type to show YoY share growth (+2%) while Brand Properties and Network Affiliates each declined -2%.

  • Programs: Load-to-Wallet (LTW) and Load-to-Card (LTC) have grown at the expense of Print-at-Home (PAH). PAH was down -34% YoY and is bleeding share with a -46% share decline. LTC’s growth has been especially notable as it’s increase is outpacing LTW by 1.5x. LTC’s share increase was an impressive +21% while LTW only grew by +3%.

  • Digital Geographic Targeting: Regional distribution still commands the largest share at 84% (+33% YoY) and this share is growing. There was a +6% increase in share for Regional over a year ago while National lost-24% share. This reinforces the focus of marketers in digital to spend where it matters most.

  • New Products: In 2018, there was a noticeable decline in the number of print new products and new product events across all areas. The average number of events went from 2.3 (per new product) to 2.0. Digital tells the same story with new product decreases in all areas. However, there were a few bright spots in terms new product events. Cereals, Frozen Products, Personal Care, Other Packaged Goods and Refrigerated Foods saw their number of events increase.

“In 2018, we saw marketers being very deliberate because budget and marketplace pressures called for tough decisions,” Kantar reported. “The strategy was about hunkering down, finding what worked and putting plans into action. Brands stepped away from trying to do everything and placed more of an emphasis on stabilizing the bottom line.” 

                                               Early July 2019
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