Have you heard the news? Procter & Gamble is getting out of the paper coupon business, discontinuing its BrandSAVER inserts effective next month.
Only, this isn’t really news – it’s “fake news”.
A rumor about the demise of P&G coupon inserts has been going around on social media the past couple of weeks. “P&G will be removed from the market officially as of April 2017,” it begins. “Due to the gross misuse of their coupons, the P&G insert will be eliminated from all newspapers nationally and will be available for print only.”
Normally, unfounded rumors don’t merit much contemplation, but this particular one has been gaining traction since it first appeared, to the point that it’s now attracting P&G’s attention.
“P&G has no plans to discontinue our BrandSAVER coupon circular,” a company spokesperson confirms to Coupons in the News. “We are committed to helping our consumers save time, effort and money by offering regular savings. The distribution and specific coupon offers of P&G BrandSAVER may vary month-to-month, but you can always find savings on P&G Everyday.”
P&G’s recent actions to combat coupon abuse may have made many inclined to believe the rumor, which cites coupon misuse as the reason for the supposed end of the printed coupon inserts.
Last year, P&G began limiting where it offered certain laundry care coupons. In many regions, pages of the BrandSAVER that would normally have coupons for Tide, Gain, Downy or Bounce now direct readers to P&G’s website for printable versions of the coupons. P&G said at the time that it was an effort to “extend more valuable offers to our most loyal customers”. But it was largely viewed as an effort to thwart coupon resellers by limiting the circulation of the popular coupons to certain regions.
P&G tried a different tactic last month, when it printed a couple of Tide and Dreft coupons in a full-page ad in the Sunday newspaper – not in an insert, but on a page of the newspaper itself. Suddenly, many coupon sellers who seem to have no trouble obtaining inserts in bulk – even those who claim to obtain their inserts by buying Sunday newspapers in bulk – had a hard time getting their hands on these particular offers.
And then there are the efforts to control the distribution of the P&G inserts themselves. Valassis, the publisher of the RedPlum coupon inserts, also distributes P&G’s inserts. And last November, it declined to deliver those inserts to a distribution center suspected of supplying inserts by the thousands to individuals who sell them online.
So some sellers who suddenly found themselves without any RedPlum or P&G inserts to offer began making excuses – and spreading rumors. “P&G has gone digital in Los Angeles,” one seller informed customers, worrying many of them that this was a sign of things to come.
And it was, in a way – P&G hasn’t “gone digital”, but P&G and Valassis are continuing their efforts to selectively alter their distribution in markets that are known hotbeds of coupon reselling. Resellers who buy extra newspapers in order to have extra coupons to sell may be operating in something of an ethical gray area, but the coupon publishers say those who obtain mass quantities of inserts from distribution centers are simply dealing in stolen goods.
So no, P&G will not stop printing and distributing BrandSAVER inserts next month. But as the company continues to battle insert thefts and paper coupon misuse and abuse, there’s no guarantee that it won’t stop printing paper coupons and go all digital at some point in the future. So it may not be true now – but eventually, this is one piece of fake news that may not turn out to be so far-fetched.
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