According to NCH (Marketing Services,) 305 billion coupons were distributed by CPG marketers in 2012, exactly the same number as 2011. On the surface, that might appear as if there was no change at all. But the 305 billion coupons distributed in 2012 were not the same 305 billion coupons of 2011. Who was promoting, what was being promoted, where it was promoted, and how those coupons were used by marketers in 2012 all differed substantially from the recent past. The redemption results were therefore very different as well.
Consumers’ expectations for value in their purchasing decisions remained strong throughout 2012. NCH’s August 2012 Consumer Survey found that 79.8% of consumers regularly shop using CPG coupons, similar to the 80.6% prior year result, and well above the 63.6% in the pre-recession 2007 study.
According to the BIGinsight Monthly Consumer Survey in December 2012, 53.7% of consumers continued to focus more on needs than wants while shopping, similar to the 52.1% in December 2011 and 52.7% in December 2010. These surveys confirm that a strong value-oriented mindset has persisted for a large segment of the population despite some improvements in overall consumer confidence measures and unemployment rates in 2012.
Of the 305 billion coupons issued by CPG marketers in 2012, non-food categories comprised 4.4% more of the available coupons than the prior year, with items such as medications, personal care and other household products all distributing a greater quantity. CPG marketers increased the coupons available in non-food categories where consumers tend to delay purchases or have a multitude of national brand and retailer private label choices. Conversely, there were 6.5% fewer food coupons, including products that are purchased frequently.
Among those in the survey who said they were using fewer coupons than the year before, 46% of the consumers cited the number one reason was: “I can’t find coupons for the products I want to buy.”
The consumer experience was primarily the result of CPG marketers shifting more of their coupons in 2012 to products that were new to the market. Kantar Media measured a 23.2% increase in new product introduction events with Free Standing Insert (FSI) coupons in 2012. Coupons have been effectively used to generate trial of new products for 125 years, notes the report.
CPG marketers used free standing inserts to distribute the largest volume of all their coupons in 2012, increasing the media’s share to 90.1% of the 305 billion coupons issued. The 0.7 FSI share point increase came from In-Store, Direct Mail and Magazine as CPG marketers reduced their use of those higher-redeeming media while continuing to experiment with the audience reach and scale potential of various digital media. In total, digital remains less than 1% of all coupons distributed, including those printed at home and paperless offers downloaded to loyalty cards or mobile devices.
Print-at-home coupons are now nearly 6% of all coupons redeemed in the U.S., says the report. Beyond print-at-home, paperless coupons are being made available via retailer websites to download offers primarily as a feature of a retailer’s loyalty card program. All paperless vehicles combined, including mobile, have grown to represent a little more than 1% of all coupons redeemed.
2.9 billion coupons were redeemed in 2012 for CPG products in the U.S., down 17%, an inconsistent year-over-year result that was created by marketers’ strategy-shifts. While this reduced volume saved marketers a substantial $800 million in face value discounts, it also raised the cost of per unit items that benefit from higher volume efficiencies, such as retailer redemption handling, auditing and settlement services.
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