Mind-Boggling Moneymakers Cause Chaos and Controversy

Source: October 14, 2016 in Coupons In The News

Need some Lipton tea or Fruttare frozen fruit bars? Well, Publix will pay you twenty bucks for each set of sixteen that you take off their shelves.

At least they were, until they realized the extent of the stacking scenario they had enabled, and put a stop to it – upsetting some extreme couponers, and store staffers who’ve had to deal with the fallout.

The Florida-based chain had couponers in six Southern states salivating over a couple of store coupon/sale/instant rebate combinations, after previews started emerging for the weekly ad that began midweek. There’s a promotion offering an instant rebate of $5, for every $15 worth of select Pepsico, General Mills and Unilever products purchased. Those products are also on sale. And there happens to be a store coupon available for $5 off 2 select Unilever products, two of which are part of the promotion.

So consider this scenario – boxes of Fruttare bars are on sale this week for $2.50 each. They’re eligible for the $5/2 coupon, and the $5 off $15 rebate. Buy six boxes for $15, use three $5 coupons to get them for free, get the $5 instant rebate on top of it, and earn $5 in overage (which Publix allows).

Or buy ten boxes of Lipton tea (or a couple of fillers and eight boxes, if your store sticks to the maximum allowed per store policy). They’re on sale for $1.50 each. Buy $15 worth, use five $5 coupons, get the $5 instant rebate, and earn a whopping $15 in overage.

Buy both brands, over multiple shopping trips, and you earn a twenty-dollar bill every time you set foot in a Publix store this week.

But not anymore.

If you’ve ever held onto a good coupon, only to have it expire the day before a big sale – or if a coupon comes out just as soon as a sale is over – that’s no accident. Stores and manufacturers typically aim to plan their promotions carefully, to avoid ill-advised scenarios that provide shoppers with overlapping discounts.

But occasionally there are mistakes, oversights and “what-were-they-thinking” moments like the one that’s caused a frenzy at Publix.

Many shoppers reported that shelves full of Lipton and Fruttare were cleared within minutes of stores opening on the first day of the sale. Some proudly posted their receipts on social media to show off their hauls, and their profits.

And many others started complaining, once Publix began scrambling to contain the damage and put limits on the deal.

“Stores have set a limit of 2 on certain items. So how are we going to make the $15.00 mark?” one shopper asked on Publix’s Facebook page. “How can we take advantage of a sale if we are not even allowed enough items to make it work?”


One shopper’s store manager “would only accept two of those particular coupons and they refused to honor your published policy of taking eight identical coupons,” another comment read.

Limiting quantities “just shows a lack of preparation for their own sales. Ridiculous,” complained another.

“As you might imagine, due to these great deals, we have some stores who are running low on product or are completely sold out of product,” Publix spokesperson Maria Brous told Coupons in the News. “We’ve had to make some tough decisions in an effort to provide the best opportunity for the majority of our customers to benefit from these deals.” Therefore, she said, “stores are limiting quantity deals and we are also limiting the $5.00 off coupon to two per household, per day.”

(Update: Later, Publix relaxed the limits on the coupon, and on the number of participating items that can be purchased. “Due to overwhelming feedback from our customers, we decided to remove these limitations and now there is a maximum of 8 coupons allowed,” Publix explained. In addition, stores “should allow customers to purchase enough product to meet the $15 minimum.”)

Meantime, the $5/2 coupon is being retroactively interpreted to apply to two different participating brands, and not two of the same brands – so one coupon can’t be used to buy, say, two boxes of Lipton. “The coupon does not state you have to mix and match,” one Facebook commenter grumbled. “Therefore you are not following your own coupon policy and may actually be classified as false advertising.” Added another: “They are punishing their customers for their careless advertising team’s mistake.”

Typically, Publix lets store managers set limits or determine how store coupons are to be applied at their discretion. It’s a relatively rare move for the corporate office to impose limits chain-wide – especially after a weekly ad is out, instead of spelling it out in the ad itself.

That has upset many shoppers who missed their chance to get paid for buying Lipton and Fruttare. Others, meanwhile, find the limits reasonable and perfectly understandable. The other area of disagreement, is whether coupon blogs and message boards that promoted the stacking scenario, were merely pointing out a completely legitimate deal – or taking avaricious advantage of a marketing error, before the stores and participating manufacturers realized what had hit them.

I Heart Publix” blogger Michelle Atwood is on the side of not promoting such deals.

“By highlighting the deal (or telling people to RUN) it just encourages shelf-clearing, which is not something that I want to support,” she told Coupons in the News. “I know Publix will be overwhelmed by folks wanting the items, and just don’t feel that it’s appropriate for me to add to the chaos.”

So why would a store offer such overlapping deals at all? Is it a case of a retailer or manufacturer’s coupon-issuing left hand not knowing what the promotions-creating right hand is doing? For all the careful calibrating that brands usually do to avoid concurrent promotions on the same items, that clearly didn’t happen this time.

Unless, that is, Unilever purposely pulled out all the stops to send boxes of Lipton and Fruttare flying off the shelves. And if that’s the case, they certainly succeeded.

It may be safe to assume, though, that paying people to take their products is not something they’re likely to do again anytime soon. So if you managed to stock up on Lipton and Fruttare this week, hope your supply lasts you until the next time a deal like this comes along. If there is a next time.


(Update: See “Publix Pays the Price for Outrageous Overage“)

Digital Coupons Take Off

While paper coupons still dominate, the number of digital coupons jumped nearly 24% during the first half of 2016.

October 12, 2016

NEW YORK CITY – Free-standing inserts coupons are retaining their popularity, but digital coupons are making inroads, Progressive Grocer reports. During the first half of 2016, the number of digital coupons rose 23.4%, according to Kantar Media.

During the past year, the number of U.S. mobile coupon users jumped nearly 18% to reach 92.6 million, according to eMarketer data. By the end of this year, mobile coupon users are predicted to advance an additional 11% to reach 104 million.

Supporting the transition to paperless couponing is a new standard from GS1 US and the Joint Industry Coupon Committee (JICC) to assist merchants in tracking and identifying digital coupon transactions at the cash register. This standard will provide retailers with enhanced traceability at checkout and allow for easier redemption from coupon issuers.

“The new GS1 Standard is a step forward in addressing industry needs at a time when consumers are relying on their mobile devices more than ever to shop,” said Jeffrey Bumgarner, manager, industry affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers Association. “Industry members and their app developer partners will be able to use the new standard as soon as the proper infrastructure is in place at the end of this year.”

Other mobile payment systems like Samsung Pay are seeing the potential for digital coupons and are enhancing features to make it easier for shoppers to search, save and redeem mobile coupons. Millennials in particular have embraced digital couponing.

NACS Online / Media / News Archive

Ecommerce Up 30% in 2015, CPG Up 42%

by , Staff Writer @mp_research, February 11, 2016, 6:15 AM

According to estimates from 1010data, reported by Jack Neff for AdAge, retail e-commerce sales grew by 30% over 2014, but In-store sales for most categories remained nearly flat according to the U.S. Census Department. Consumer packaged goods (CPG) grew at an even faster pace of 42% than total e-commerce year over year. Much of the growth was fueled by Amazon’s Subscribe and Save feature (SNS,) being the default selection for many Amazon users as they check out. Over 20% of all growth in CPG came from SNS.

Amazon SNS revenue for the 50 CPG categories measured grew by 214%, the benefit of the compounding nature of subscription sales. The 3 largest SNS categories were baby diapers, pet food, and coffee. The fastest growing were hair care, baby wipes, and deodorant.

The fastest growing category across total e-commerce measured was Laundry Detergent with 85% Y-O-Y growth. Laundry Detergent is dominated online by Tide, who had 48% percent market share.

Top-Selling Detergent Brands by Percentage of Market Share

Share of Market





Seventh Generation






Arm & Hammer


Charlie’s Soap


Mrs. Meyer’s






Source: 1010data, February 2016

The category that came in second place for growth was Toothpaste with 75% Y-O-Y growth, with Crest leading the way in terms of market share. Colgate Palmolive owns both the Colgate brand and Tom’s of Maine. When both brands are combines, as a manufacturer, Colgate Palmolive is the leading seller online toothpaste seller with 26% market share, says the report.

Top-Selling Tooth Paste Brands by Percentage of Market Share

Share of Market







Tom’s of Maine


Arm & Hammer












Source: 1010data, February 2016
Top Ten CPG US Ecommerce Categories Y-O-Y Growth

% Ecommerce Growth

Laundry Detergent




Health Snack Bars




Adult Nutrition


Baby Wipes


Protein Powder


Bottled Water




Baby Diapers


Beauty Primers


Source: 1010data, February 2016

The largest category in CPG, according to 1010data estimates, is pet food, which did $760M in e-commerce sales in the U.S. in 2015, up 55% from $490M the prior year. The next largest categories were Facial Moisturizers and Fragrances with $450M and $330M in revenue respectively and 25% and 11% growth respectively.

The fastest growing brand that did more than $5M in annual sales in 2015 was Amazon’s own CPG brand (Amazon Elements) that sells parenting staples such as Amazon Elements Baby Wipes. Amazon Elements grew by over 4000% in CPG sales. Bai energy drinks grew by 625% and took the second place in growth for $5M+ brands.

E-commerce is still less than 10% of total sales and often less than 5% for major CPG manufacturers such as P&G, J&J, Unilever, Mondelez, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi. However, the majority of their sales growth in the U.S. is coming from e-commerce in many categories, says the report.

The panel data for this report comprises analysis of the top 100 online retailers in the US, covering approximately 95% of total retail purchases as defined by 1010data.

To review the published article, please visit here; or from 1010data please go here.

Predictions for mobile proximity and beacons in 2016

Mobile proximity is ready for its coming-of-age moment this year, thanks to a better understanding of technology, methodology and best practice from all parties involved.
Here are five predictions for mobile proximity in 2016:
1. Marketers will require better data authenticity and accuracy to make smarter connections with their consumers, leading to wider adoption of first-party GPS and beacons, and a move away from third-party data 
Effective mobile proximity campaigns require accurate data, but in 2015, location fraud was a real issue.
Take, for example, programmatic location data, of which more than half is inaccurate. Of the 37 percent of data that was accurate, it was only to 100 meters. That is an entire city block in New York, or the difference between the grocery store and the dry cleaner next store in a suburb.
If marketers want to create verified in-store engagements through mobile, and effectively communicate with their shoppers at the most important time in the purchase cycle, they need to demand better, fresher data from location providers.
2. Offline retailers will leverage digital tactics such as retargeting and pre-targeting to help drive real world sales
Ecommerce just passed offline sales on Black Friday for the first time. This is perhaps the most significant shift for retail in the past century, and something that has been speculated about since the early days of the Internet. Now that it has finally happened, many offline retailers might be thinking about how they can survive such a monumental shift in consumer behavior.
The smartest retailers are using digital marketing tactics and tapping in-store mobile engagement to drive incremental sales, while others are making the in-store experience more exciting.
As marketers’ understanding of proximity technology gets better, the conversation is moving beyond simple in-store engagements and toward previously impossible tactics for offline brands and merchants such as retargeting.
Formerly the exclusive domain of ecommerce, retargeting has been one of the most successful methods of marketing for digital companies for nearly a decade.
Now, thanks to the accurate data provided by beacons and their ability to function like an offline cookie, offline marketers can level the playing field with their ecommerce competition and deploy retargeting based on offline store visit data.
Results have been exciting thus far, with retailers driving an 8 percent increase in store visits thanks to retargeting via store visit data from beacons.
3. Consumers will expect contextual mobile and added value in offline shopping
More than 84 percent of smartphone owners use their devices in the store to help them shop, and applications in large part have become the conduit for marketers to connect with shoppers in the store.
But in order to be effective, these engagements must provide some kind of value to the shopper, both in native context of the app and the place in which they are delivered.
Some of the most successful mobile engagements are happening in the grocery setting, where the most frequent shopping trips occur and there are many products on the shelves.
Hidden Valley provided a great example of how to reach shoppers with quality content, running a campaign about quick and easy dinner ideas through the recipe app, Epicurious. The campaign created a natural connection that made sense from a consumer standpoint.
Another app, List Ease, simply reminds shoppers to check their list upon entering the store, before deploying a branded interstitial.
The friendly reminder to check your list – perhaps even saving you a trip back to the store if you were to forget an item – is worth a branded interstitial in the consumer’s mind.
These digital benefits in offline shopping are what millennial consumers expect from marketers – and any ads delivered need to be worth it from the shopper’s standpoint.
4. Mobile proximity will move out of innovation budgets to become the fastest growing piece of mobile ad spending in 2016 
The hype phase about beacons and proximity technology is over, and we now have real best practice guiding brands and retailers to engage shoppers at appropriate times and places.
Now that marketers have a better understanding of the technology and what is required of them to make it all work, we will see the end of the toe-dip era and more brands jumping into the pool.
The combination of opportunity, existing in-store consumer behavior, best practice, location data accuracy and experience with proximity campaigns will pave the way for tremendous growth in 2016.
5. Proximity will start to be used more effectively by nonprofits
Retail and consumer packaged goods brands have been on the forefront of beacon and proximity technology, and advertisers are achieving real success with the technology.
But the real exciting developments might come from a different group: nonprofits.
Earlier this year, a company called Wayfndr deployed beacons to the London Tube system in an effort to help the visually impaired navigate the subway system.
Back in the United States, the Zac Brown Band leveraged beacon technology to drive awareness for its partner charity, Warriors to Summits. In 2016, we will see more exciting uses of beacon technology outside of retail or events and in new places.
Kevin Hunter is president of inMarket, Venice, CA. Reach him at [email protected]