America’s love affair with the coupon continued in 2004, as 251 billion coupons were distributed within newspaper Free Standing Inserts (FSIs). According to the annual Marx FSI Trend Report, this represented a 7.7 percent increase in comparison to 2003. Over 850 FSI coupons were issued for every U.S. citizen with potential per-person savings of nearly $1,000.
“FSI coupons traditionally account for the majority of all couponing in the United States,” said Mark Nesbitt, Chief Operating Officer at Marx Promotion Intelligence/TNS Media Intelligence. “We are continuing to see an increase in the number of FSI coupons distributed as coupons remain a critical piece of a brand’s overall marketing campaign.”
The Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) sector remains the largest user of FSI coupons, accounting for two-thirds of all FSI page activity and the majority of FSI coupons distributed. The report found that over the past five years, couponing for non-food products such as household items and health and beauty aids has increased significantly and now surpasses couponing for food products. Nine of the top ten couponing brands in 2004 were non-food items, a trend led by a surge of new product introductions within the Oral Care, Cosmetic and Household Cleaning categories.
The Franchise business sector accounts for 11 percent of all page distribution, with more focus on special price point-type offers in addition to coupons among restaurant ads. Growth in the Franchise sector exceeds that for CPG, with 2004 registering 21 percent growth over 2003. “The expansion of Franchise FSIs has been driven in part by increased restaurant activity and the wider acceptance of FSIs as a cost efficient marketing vehicle for restaurants to get their messages out,” said Wallace Marx Jr., Director of Marketing.
Trends that impacted the FSI industry in 2004 included:
Procter & Gamble’s brandSaver: in its 3rd year, brandSaver has become the benchmark for corporate event couponing and continues to expand in size and scope.
Bigger Multi-Brand Coupon Events: a number of major manufacturers have run promotional campaigns that have created bigger themed multi-brand events.
Retailer-Driven Promotions: manufacturers are maximizing trade support by partnering with selected retailers in co-marketing coupon events as a viable way to gain increased trade support.
Low-Carb/Healthy Living: FSI coupon distribution was given a positive boost by the latest diet trends, both from food manufacturers and restaurants.
High-Value Coupons/ Appliances: manufacturers used FSI’s to promote non-traditional offerings such as coffee makers, air freshening systems and electric shavers, thus driving awareness and purchase among the millions of consumers that make reading the FSIs part of their weekly Sunday ritual.
Proctor & Gamble, General Mills and Unilever were the top FSI coupon advertisers in 2004. Overall, the top 20 packaged goods companies accounted for nearly 60 percent of all coupons distributed. The top 10 consisted of a nearly even split of food and non-food producers.
The top ten couponing product types accounted for 32.1 percent of overall couponing activity and registered a combined growth rate of 9.5 percent. Vitamins, the category with the greatest growth rate among the top ten, was pushed forward by diet supplements, related to the low-carb trend.
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