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MBPT Spotlight: Data Shows Marketers Pouring More Dollars Into Digital Couponing

With a growing number of consumers relying on the Internet for brand-buying advice, marketers are spending an increasing amount of dollars on digital couponing, with first-quarter expenditures reaching $835 million, up 130% over the first quarter of 2012, according to data from Marx, a unit of Kantar Media.

While more than 50% of coupons redeemed are still from free-standing newspaper inserts, during the first half of 2013, 6.1% of the total 1.4 billion coupons used were print-at-home coupons, with another 2.5% via other paperless formats, according to NCH Marketing Services.

Suzie Brown, executive VP of sales and marketing for NCH parent company Valassis, says, “For marketers, it’s about finding the right media mix and defining the coupon characteristics to both activate consumers and still drive ROI for their brand.”

David Hamric, general manager, Kantar Media Marx, says website-based coupon offerings are “taking on a greater significance for the consumer promotion industry.”

Marketer dollars allocated on all digital coupon types grew in first quarter of 2013 vs. 2012, according to the Marx report. Print-at-home coupons saw expenditures reach $702.7 million, up 110.2% from $334.3 million. Load-to-card expenditures grew to $102.5 million, up 268.7% from $27.8 million.

And as more consumers become savvy with the procedure to capture load-to-wallet coupons on their smartphones, this category will grow steadily each year.

Food categories received 48% of the total allocated ad expenditures, which was up 4% from first-quarter 2012. Non-food categories, which made up 52% of the total spending, was down 4%.

Personal care saw the most digital coupon dollars spent in the first quarter, making up 19.7% of the non-food category total. Healthcare products followed with 15.4% of the spending in the non-food category. Household products ranked third with a 13.2% share of the expenditures. Dry grocery brands saw the biggest share of expenditures in the food category with a 16.9% total, followed by refrigerated foods with a 13.3% share of allocated ad dollars.

Ad expenditures allocated to cereals fell to 6.1% of the total in the food category, down from 10.7%.

Visits to coupon websites grew by 76% over first-quarter 2012 to more than 4.5 billion. All the category websites monitored by Marx were up, with the dry grocery category drawing the most visits with 885 million. Personal care was next with 832 million visits and healthcare products came in third with 757 million visits.

Darcy Douglas, director, account solutions at Kantar Media Marx, stresses brands should pay attention to what types of coupon sites are being frequented by consumers.

“Website coupons are a major force within consumer promotion, reaching more and more shoppers every day,” Douglas says. “It is particularly important to pay close attention to which websites are heavily visited by shoppers” so they can capture their store trips in the planning stage.

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