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TheStreet Open House

Celebrating 125 Years: The Coupon Continues To Deliver Value As Distribution Channels Evolve

Stock quotes in this article: VCI

LIVONIA, Mich., Aug. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --  Valassis (NYSE: VCI), one of the nation's leading media and marketing services companies, continues its mission to deliver value to consumers how, when and where they want along the path that was forged 125 years ago with the birth of the coupon, celebrated during National Coupon Month each September.

While the coupon itself has evolved tremendously since that first one in 1887, it continues to deliver savings and ad value, encouraging consumers to try a new product as it did when John Pemberton, a pharmacist from Atlanta, created the recipe for what would become Coca-Cola. He distributed free drink cards encouraging trial of this new product – a promotional tactic still used today. Little did he know then the trend he would start with a key promotional tool for marketers and how coupons would become so highly sought after by consumers.

Within the first few years, Asa Candler, who had acquired the rights to Coca-Cola, arranged with pharmacies to direct mail account-specific coupons to customers for a free beverage at the soda fountain and the handwritten coupon was transformed to reach a target audience. The coupon soon began its evolution over the last century into offers good anywhere for products and services of just about any kind.

"As an inventor and innovator, I have to think that John Pemberton would have embraced today's advertising environment where print and digital converge to get trial for his new product," said Suzie Brown, Valassis Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing.  "In 2012, brands are promoting in innovative ways much like he did 125 years ago. Likewise, as an avid promoter, Asa Candler would likely have supported the expansion of print coupons into today's digital world to further reach potential buyers wherever they are. So much has changed but, at the heart of a promotion, it is still all about driving response."

In 2011, NCH Marketing Services, Inc., reported 305 billion coupons were distributed and Americans saved $4.6 billion using coupons. Historically, during recessionary times coupon use has increased as consumers have become more savings focused.

"The growth in coupon distribution and redemption that we have seen during the most recent recession has similarities to the trends of past economic periods," said Charlie Brown, NCH Marketing Services Vice President of Marketing. "Today's coupon, however, has undergone a transformation in the eyes of the consumer. While they may have used coupons out of necessity in the past, now consumers are proud to be planning their shopping specifically to save with coupons."

Delivered in print, in-store, online, mobile and in the social sphere as consumers seek out savings from multiple sources, today the coupon is clipped, printed, downloaded to grocery loyalty cards and shared on Facebook®, via emails and Tweets.  According to the 2012 RedPlum Purse String Study of more than 9,100 consumers, the top five sources of where consumers most often get their coupons and deals are the: newspaper, email/coupons alerts, retail circulars, internet searches and the mail, which captures an array of distribution methods.

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