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Valassis--King of Coupons

April 2000
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Valassis Communications is the coupon guru, the originator of the free-standing insert—that four-color coupon booklet, which has become a household commodity, if not phenomenon, as a modern day, money-saving device. Now, it's revolutionizing the way consumers clip coupons by offering "virtual savings" online.


BY CHERYL A. ADAMS


If you've ever saved money with one of those Sunday newspaper coupons, chances are, you have Valassis Communications to thank.

And you'll be even more thankful in the new millenium, when, beginning this year, Valassis is printing and distributing a record number (44 weeks!) of free-standing inserts (FSIs) in Sunday newspapers nationwide.

And, that's not all. If you're an Internet user, you'll also be able to save the electronic way, as this communications and commercial printing giant futurizes—and revolutionizes—the coupon business by offering cents-off savings via the World Wide Web.

But don't put away your scissors just yet. Saving the old-fashioned way (with scissors and four-color coupons in hand), U.S. consumers will clip their share of an estimated $3.5 billion in total consumer savings in 2000. And Livonia, MI-based Valassis Communications Inc. (VCI) doesn't think e-coupons are going to change that any time soon.

How can a company predict the future failure or success of a trend—be it printed, four-color FSIs or a technology like e-commerce that's still in its infancy?

For starters, as a marketing and communications company, Valassis uses high-tech marketing and tracking techniques to target audiences and monitor how different coupons perform; therefore, it's the company's business to know how consumers respond to sales promotions and coupons—be it electronically or traditionally, in full-color print.

Second, as a marketing services company, Valassis commands 50 percent of the $1.9 billion FSI market. Valassis is the coupon guru, the originator of the free-standing insert—that 32- to 34-page, four-color coupon booklet, which has become a modern day, money-saving device.

In 1972, Valassis Founder George F. Valassis modernized—and nationalized—the coupon business by creating this unique product known as the free-standing insert. For the first time, coupon advertisers were offered a professional coupon program that had guaranteed publishing dates and market distribution (weekly distribution nationwide via Sunday newspapers). Also, because of the cooperative nature of the insert, it was now affordable for advertisers to run a national coupon program.

Modest Beginnings
From its modest beginning (as a rep firm in George Valassis' home) to its present status as the nation's 15th largest printer (as ranked on the Printing Impressions 500, December 1999), with revenues of $795 million, Valassis Communications is a company rich with history. It's a pioneer and innovator in marketing communications and commercial printing. And it continues to lead the way, blazing new trails in everything from Internet couponing to incorporating an all-digital, computer-to-plate (CTP) workflow to capturing headlines for its outstanding employee practices.

 
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