For several years during the recession, one traditional marketing tool, free-standing insert (FSI) coupons, enjoyed huge growth rates. But recent data suggests consumer product goods (CPG) manufacturers, the most frequent issuers of these coupons, may be turning to different marketing strategies. But while the FSI industry may be changing, other marketers are still finding value in this format.

According to Marx, part of Kantar Media, the number of traditional coupons used during the first part of this year dropped by 3.9%. Mark Nesbitt, president of Kantar Media Intelligence North America, attributes part of the drop to CPG manufacturers who may now be issuing more digital coupons through their websites or social media sites. Marx data shows that marketers offered $236 billion in coupon value during the first part of 2011 which is slightly more than what was distributed during the comparable period in 2010. Marketers are also putting more value into each coupon with face value averaging $1.58, a 4.9% increase over last year.

At the same time, analysts note that retailers are using more coupons. Top retailers turning to FSI coupons include Walmart, Dollar General, Walgreens, Petco, and Kroger.  The Marx survey also revealed that a wider range of manufacturers are experimenting with the traditional FSI coupon format. However, Nesbitt suggests that this format may finally be feeling the permanent effects of the digital age. “After several years of significant growth, FSI coupon activity may be stabilizing while more integrated print and digital coupon promotion tactics are emerging.”

Consumers are likely still looking for the best way to save money while they are shopping but more of them may be using digital instead of print coupons to do so.

[Source: Johnson, Michael. Report: FSI coupon activity down in 2011. RetailingToday.com. 13 Jul. 2011. Web. 30 Jul. 2011]