Integrated print and digital promotion: 2021 trends & insights

Digital estimated prints grew more than 13% to 8.6 billion, accounting for $15.4 billion incentives offered.
09 March 2022
2021 Print and Digital Promotion trends
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Knowing how brands are investing and messaging to stand out from the competition has never been more important. Kantar’s connected media intelligence can help you master the changing media landscape with unrivaled data assets, pioneering technology, and long-established expertise. With these powerful advertising insights, we have analyzed promotion trends from 2021 to predict where the industry is headed.

In this high-level overview, we look at promotions highlights from 2021. Please fill out the form below if you would like to receive a full copy of our 2021 industry trends report.

Within this analysis, Year End 2021 print data includes Free Standing Insert (FSI). Year End 2021 digital data includes Kantar’s full website footprint except

2021 highlights: The promotions landscape

In a bounce back year, CPG manufacturers and retailers returned to digital in a big way. In 2021, year-over-year decreases in print promotion activity slowed to -12.4% with 159 billion print coupons dropped. At the same time, digital activity increased significantly - up 13.3% to 8.7 billion estimated prints.

After being hit hard by the pandemic, more than half of the top 100 manufacturers in Branded ad spend and Print promotion saw year-over-year increases in 2021. Digital increases were less pronounced among this group, but 2021 still saw 48 manufacturers increasing activity in Digital Rebates – 15 of which more than doubled their activity. 

2021 by the numbers

  • Incentives: Overall print Weighted Average Face Value (WAFV) increased +$0.22 from $2.36 to $2.58, while overall digital incentives decreased -$0.12 from $1.90 to $1.78.
  • Digital Properties: Digital continued to dominate in 2021, with Retailer Properties gaining +7.5 share points for a total of 85.5% of Digital estimated prints. Coinciding with the shift toward Retailer Properties, Regional activity accounted for 89.2% of all Digital events captured in 2021.
  • Web Traffic Rank:, and maintained their rankings within the Top 3, posting average unique visitors of 2.2 million, 1.2 million and 0.6 million.
  • New Products: 2,219 new products were captured in 2021 with 90% first seen in digital. 73% of all new products were in Food.
  • Digital Rebates: Following an explosion of Digital Rebate activity in 2020, rebate programs decreased -24.7% to 800 million estimated prints in 2021.
  • Unique Offer Types: Kantar continues to track unique offer types in Digital, including BOGO, Free Product and Percent Off coupons as well as Feature Price offers that appear on retailer websites and feature a sale or discounted price point rather than a redeemable coupon.
  • Creative Messaging: Continuing the trend noted in 2020, QR code usage among brands increased exponentially - from 69 unique events in 2020 to over 200 in 2021. In 2021, Kantar also noted continuing trends in social responsibility as CPGs utilized creatives to promote good causes centered on race, gender, sexual orientation, mental health and the environment. 

Implications for CPG advertisers

While it was another turbulent year amidst the COVID-19 crisis, we found that retailers didn’t take the same “wait and see” approach as they may have in 2020. Total ad spending across print and digital increased +36.2% to $210.9 billion in 2021 with CPG increasing +4.5% to $20.1 billion.

Digital promotion activity increased 13.3% offering $15.4 billion in incentives across 8.7 billion estimated prints.

We saw coupon incentives increase where it mattered most for the fifth year in a row – targeting shoppers with the best offer in Print and Digital promotions will likely remain a top priority for CPGs in 2022.As forecasted in our 2020 report, retailers continued to find innovative uses for QR codes and focus brand messaging on social topics such as sustainability, inclusion, and diversity. 

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