ACP Celebrates 11th Annual Industry Coupon Conference With “Drivers For Change: Millennials, Digital, Personalization”

The Association of Coupon Professionals Celebrates 11th Annual Industry Coupon Conference With

“Drivers For Change: Millennials, Digital, Personalization”


The Scene

In our industry, it sometimes seems like change happens faster than a NASCAR Race, which is why the Queen City, Charlotte N.C., provided the perfect backdrop for coupon experts to share insights and explore industry trends. Coupons are entering a pivotal moment in time as demographics shift and preferences change. The professionals who gathered in Charlotte set out to explore the leading influences in today’s marketplace including millennials, digital, and personalization.

As the Association of Coupon Professionals (ACP) celebrated its 11th Annual Industry Coupon Conference in 2016, this event now marked more than a decade of successful yearly gatherings of established industry thought leaders and many first-time attendees.

The Annual Industry Coupon Conference always brings together national and international representatives from retailers, manufacturers, coupon proces­sors and solu­tion providers that sup­port man­u­fac­turers or retailers. As the only national conference dedicated exclusively to coupons in 2016, it highlighted throughout its programs the current industry landscape and future trends as well as changing consumer shopping habits and the impact of emerging technology.

Speaking of technology, to complement its ongoing promotional and informational strategies, this year ACP continued an exciting, live Twitter feed specifically for the conference. Using the hashtag #ACPDrivers, attendees shared everything from expertise and insight, engaging questions for presenters, to collegial and fun comments about their enjoyment of the conference. This made for complete conference communication on a variety of platforms to the benefit of those in attendance.

“Change is accelerating, driven by technology, and how millennials interact with it” said ACP Executive Director, John Morgan. “Growth in coupons is coming from digital promotions and with it, capabilities for personalization. The leaders of our industry came to listen, learn and discuss the future of coupons.”


 The Industry Experts

 The conference kicked off with a Coupon 101/102 education workshop. The workshop reviews all aspects of the couponing industry in an informative and interactive format designed for individuals new to couponing, or those who need an update and refresher course. Presenters are industry experts and pertinent topics included:

  • Industry Overview
  • Effective Coupon Strategies
  • Coupon Distribution Types
  • Coupon Design
  • The Redemption Cycle
  • Family Code Management & GS1 Databar
  • Coupon Misredemption & Managing Risk


In the main conference session, the keynote presenter, Hannah Ubl of Bridgeworks shared her expertise on reaching the millennial demographic. She also shared “a-ha” moments, tips, and actionable solutions to addressing shopping preferences of millennials.

Attendees discovered the latest trending issues impacting the industry including: the habits of millennials, the impact of social media, retail case studies with emerging technologies, Omnichannel distribution incentives and shifting share of wallet in retail channels and online. Highlights included:

  • Shifting demographics of core shoppers, particularly how the habits of Millennials are disrupting the marketplace. The keynote address and accompanying panel with Hannah Ubl kicked off the conversation of how you can effectively reach this demographic.
  • Consumer trends and insights from News America, Valassis, Inmar and Kantar, case studies from Bashas’ and Fareway Stores.
  • Mark Pivonka Director of Customer Relationship Marketing at Bashas’ shared a “Personal Thank You” program where they are personalizing coupon offerings based on purchase data with measurable success.
  • Fareway Stores knew with the current and upcoming generations, the needs of customers would change. To offer, provide and accommodate customer needs, Fareway began to pursue digital coupon processing. Pat Madearis, Fareway Stores shared how she choose a digital vendor that could fulfill their needs, integrate with the  clearinghouse, a marketing plan, and be compatible with POS and the successes and learnings along the way.
  • Mark Heckman, a consultant with expertise in digital technology & content, customer loyalty programs and retail marketing, was back to moderate a Digital Coupon Panel with digital coupon leaders that explored the successes, opportunities and challenges of this fast growing, “needle moving” coupon vehicle.
  • The Operations Track tackled key industry issues led by Ralph Maresco, P&G who focused on paper coupon validation from both a retailer and manufacturer perspective. Why don’t retailers validate coupons at family code? What should manufacturers do to drive change? What has been the impact of some of the more recent transitions of major retailers from Company-level validation to Family Code validation? Finally, what impact has social media and new technology had in this area and why should everyone be more concerned than ever about proper coupon validation? Then Bud Miller, CIC and Mike Kushnerick, Colgate, were back to provide updates on Counterfeits and Coupon Fraud and the Digital Coupon Task force shared their new digital coupon guide.
  • FBI Special Agent Matthew J. Van Durme II and Jane Beauchamp of Brand Technologies shared how they exposed Beau Wattigney’s dark net operation. From computer technician, to coupon counterfeiter, to convicted felon – attendees followed the path of the “Purple Lotus”, and the efforts to reveal his anonymous Silk Road identity and put a stop to a major underground coupon criminal enterprise, and how it may continue to pose a threat and what can be done about it.
  • News America, Inmar and Kantar Media presented the latest trends and consumer insights in the Promotion Track.

Presentations are available to attendees. Members have access to the presentations as well as general session recordings in the member area. Currently the keynote presentation and consumer panel is available with more sessions coming soon.

The Valued Supporters

The conference was developed under the leadership of the Association of Coupon Professionals in collaboration with the Joint Industry Coupon Committee, Food Marketing Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers of America, GS1 US, Coupon Information Center and the Brand Activation Association.

The Conference Planning Task Force was led by co-chairs Cheryl Riley, Kellogg’s, and Naomi Ali, ICSB.

Sponsors included: Platinum: Flipp; Gold: Catalina, HP, Ibotta; Silver: Premier Packaging Corporation, Pinpoint Data, Atlantic Coupon Service, Quotient, You Technology, Inmar, Invisipon, Cunningham Electronics Corporation, Fun Mobility; Events: Mandlik and Rhodes; Breaks: Brand Technologies; Bag: SEA Enterprises Inc.

 The Award Winner

As is conference tradition, the Industry Impact Award was presented. This year’s winner was Naomi Ali of IC Specialty Brokers.  Naomi, an ACP board member lead and participated on a number of initiatives including; contributing to the launch of the webinar series, lead the specialty task force committee whose committees and task forces updated the Canadian Internet Guidelines, and created Guidelines for Healthcare Distributed Coupons, and a How to Coupon Guide for Natural Products, and a Printer and Creative Guide. She also co-chaired the 2016 conference.  Congratulations Naomi and thanks for all that you do.

The Leadership

The annual ACP elections were held.  The overall board of directors consists of 14-19 members (currently at 15) who work along with the Executive Director to keep ACP proactive, visible and vital in the coupon industry.

Among executive committee members, Stanley Wadford Southeastern Grocers was elected Treasurer and Pam Samaniego was elected Secretary, both to two year terms. Cheryl Riley was elected Vice president for a one-year term.

In addition to the executive committee, others elected to the board of directors include: Pam Samaniego, Catalina Marketing Corp, Darcy Douglas, Kantar Media, Mike Sonsthagen, Promotion Eyes, Ron Fischer, Redemption Processing Reps, Stanley Wadford, Southeastern Grocers, and Lisa Haley, Wakefern.  Mary Aghassi, The Clorox Company was also appointed to the board of directors for a one-year term.

The Future

For next year, we will go from the Queen City to the Music City, where we will convene in beautiful Nashville, Tennessee. As always, the Conference will attract the leaders of the industry to discuss trends, innovations and best practices in coupons.

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