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    Catalina, Inmar Deals Mean E-coupons Embraced at Grocery Retail

    Uptick in competition between the major players in digital couponing

    By Joan Driggs, EnsembleIQ

    Digital couponing is the buzz of the week, with personalized digital media company Catalina announcing today that it is purchasing Cellfire, a leading provider of load-to-card digital coupons, and digital coupon processor Inmar announcing its acquisition of Millennium Process Coupon Inc. (MPC), a New Brunswick, Canada-based coupon clearing and redemption firm.

    Inmar’s acquisition allows the company to extend its digital and traditional coupon, data analytics and shopper engagement solutions to MPC’s promotion clients and the Canadian marketplace.

    According to Inmar data, distribution of digital coupons, which are directly loaded by shoppers to their retail loyalty accounts, increased by 58 percent during the first half of 2014. Redemption volume for the same period was up 45 percent, the company reports.

    “All the growth is in digital,” says Bill Bishop, Chief Architect at Brick Meets Click. “What you’re seeing is an uptick in competition between the major players in digital couponing.”

    Consumers, retailers and CPGs reap rewards from digital solutions

    Companies today are more vested in connecting with retailers’ POS systems to learn which shoppers are purchasing which products at which outlets, says Bishop. This allows for more efficient, targeted marketing.  With this information, purveyors of digital coupons can target shoppers before, during and after store visits.

    “For Catalina, it’s an omni-channel offering that brings value to retailers, brands and consumers,” Todd Morris, president of Catalina’s U.S. business, told Progressive Grocer. “It’s a robust solution at scale that meets where the consumer is going, is a mobile and online solution for retailers, and gives CPGs the ability to reach the mobile shopper.”

    “With Cellfire, we can now seamlessly deliver content at scale across all channels and screens for our retail and brand partners,” Catalina CEO Jamie Egasti, said in statement announcing the acquisition. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed; Cellfire will continue to operate under its own name. Cellfire delivers hundreds of millions of coupons reaching shoppers at more than 22,000 stores nationwide.

    Digital couponing is not only the easiest format for consumers, retailers and CPGs, it’s also an answer to plummeting redemption rates and the poor data resulting from paper coupons. According to Morris, less than half of 1 percent of Sunday FSI coupons are redeemed. A traditional Catalina coupon given with the register receipt, redeems at about 7 percent, more than 10 times FSI coupons. “We believe our load-to-card offering will see redemption rates at that rate or higher,” he says.

    “We know that Coupons.com is the biggest and most formidable player in this space,” says Bishop. “Inmar is bulking up. Catalina is moving into this space… and with the value that is flowing through this space, a fraction means a lot of money for those that succeed. The retailer benefits from redemptions, the consumer will take advantage because they can save like never before because it’s so easy, and CPGs will realize precision targeting and feedback with the digital loop closed.”

    By Joan Driggs, EnsembleIQ
    • About Joan Driggs Joan Driggs is Managing Director ― Strategy, Member Development at the Path to Purchase Institute. She has more than 25 years of experience in trade journalism and market research. Joan enjoys connecting with CPG manufacturers and grocery retailers, and learning how they connect for the benefit of consumers. Her roots are in new product development and she continues to seek out the latest and greatest at grocery retail. To connect with Joan, email [email protected], or reach out on Twitter, @JoanPGrocer.

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