2018 Print & Digital Promotion Trends: The View from Above

Consumers—and marketers—will always have a need for coupons and promotions as part of the marketing mix, but the landscape has changed with the continued growth of digital tactics. Kantar Media analyzed this competitive space to show how 2018 shaped up. In this high-level overview, we look at areas of growth, stability and loss, the use of print, digital and rebate, and food vs. non-food CPGs. For a deeper dive into these insights, fill out the form on the right to set up a full review with our promotions experts.

2018 Highlights: The Overall Landscape

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. 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.

The CPG sector represented 75% of the total FSI pages distributed which was a -23% decrease YoY. Although total FSI pages declined in 2018, there are still a significant amount of incentives being offered to consumers on weekly basis. FSI coupons 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.

While print/FSI remains important, we can’t overlook the continued growth of digital coupons. For example, there was a +12% increase in coupons “clipped,” but at the same time we saw a -12% decrease in print coupons distributed. In terms of incentives “clipped,” there was a more modest +3% rise and a -10% decline in incentives offered in print.

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.

2018 By the Numbers

  • 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: Coupons.com 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 we saw a noticeable decline in the number of print new products AND new product events across all areas. The average # 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.

What’s Next?

In 2018, we saw marketers being very deliberate because budget and marketplace pressures called for tough decisions. 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.  

This high-level summary is the first in a series of 2018 Promotion insights. To get the full picture sooner, or for a deeper dive into this data, fill out the form on the right to set up a full review.