Catalina reaches deal to let competitors use in-store network
Catalina has reached a deal with competing promotion and in-store media players Valassis, Valpak and Insignia Systems to form a sales and marketing alliance, just as the downturn prompted by coronavirus appears likely to drive a surge of price promotion.
Dubbed the Catalina In-Store Partner Media Network, the number of companies participating is likely to grow with other negotiations ongoing, says Brian Dunphy, senior vice president of digital business and strategic partnerships at Catalina. In addition to creating and selling joint programs with Catalina, he says, the partners will also do deals among each other.
Catalina is best known for coupon machines that dispense offers alongside receipts in a network spanning 23,000 U.S. stores. Valassis is best known for freestanding coupon inserts in newspapers and direct mail, a business that’s faced increasing challenges as Sunday newspaper circulation declines. Valpak is a direct-mail promotion player, while Insignia handles in-store signage and mobile offers.
While the system brings competitors together, Dunphy doesn’t see any antitrust issues. “We made sure this was very equitable for all partners,” he says. “This is no different than making a demand-side platform available. So think of us as the equivalent of a Trade Desk for in-store.” Data shared by Catalina will also make it possible to more quickly track redemption of print coupons, he says.
The move comes after overall print coupon distribution declined 11.5 percent to 214 billion last year, while digital deals increased 9.7 percent to 8.7 billion virtual coupons “clipped,” according to Kantar.
Even so, print coupons retain by far the biggest share of coupon distribution for packaged-goods marketers and the players in Catalina’s alliance, though they have digital media and deal programs too.
Amid the coronavirus crisis, some packaged-goods marketers, including Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Johnson & Johnson, have said in recent weeks they’re pulling back on promotions aimed at driving people to take extra shopping trips or induce sales of products that are widely out of stock. And more packaged-goods sales have shifted online, where redeeming print coupons is often impossible.
Recent consumer tracking surveys by CivicScience have shown a surprising strength of brands vs. price considerations, said the firm’s CEO John Dick in a briefing last week. But he doesn’t expect that to last.
“One of the reasons maybe people aren’t being price sensitive in some categories frankly is they can’t spend in other categories,” Dick says. “We do not expect this price sensitivity bubble to maintain. People are going to get more price and value conscious.”