ISP launches push to stamp out ‘criminal’ coupon abuse

The Institute of Sales Promotion (ISP) is launching a campaign to stop what it calls the "abuse" of money-off coupons that costs suppliers an estimated £60m a year.

ISP director-general Edwin Mutton slammed retailers such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s in an interview with Marketing Week earlier this year (MW September 21), accusing them of accepting coupons without selling the products.

Now the ISP is taking action after admitting that something should have been done sooner. It says in a statement: "By taking no meaningful action, all parties have been guilty of institutionalising this behaviour and ignoring their respective corporate and social responsibilities."

The ISP will work with retailers to change current policies, which it claims encourage "misredemption". It says it is also considering hiring a political and corporate governance agency to lobby the Government and trade associations.

Other measures the ISP will implement include educating consumers that misredemption is no longer acceptable, and devising longer-term solutions.

The ISP compares misredemption to shoplifting and it adds: "With digital channels providing marketers with new promotional opportunities online and on the high street, there is even more reason to ensure coupons and vouchers work to their full potential."

Mutton claimed in September that all retailers "are at it" and that manufacturers have been "too scared to put their heads above the parapet" for fear of products being delisted.

He said the problem was "destroying" couponing as a promotional technique, and estimated that it was costing the industry between £50m and £60m a year.

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