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CPG Manufacturers and Retailers Issue Digital Coupon Guidelines to Combat Fraud, Increase Efficiency

(Washington, DC) – The Food Marketing Institute (FMI), Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and National Grocers Association (NGA) today released guidelines designed to promote model practices in the “end-to-end” digital coupon process and reduce the incidence of coupon fraud.

“These guidelines are a win-win for manufacturers, retailers and consumers,” said Pamela Bailey, president and CEO of GMA. “Manufacturers and retailers reduce costs by streamlining their coupon programs and reducing fraud, and consumers will have a better shopping experience in the store and at check out.” 

“Couponing has seen unprecedented growth in the past decade and digital coupons represent the fasting growing segment,” said Peter J. Larkin, NGA president and CEO.  “These first of its kind guidelines for digital coupons will become a go-to resource for the industry.”

“Retailers have long appreciated the popularity coupons have with consumers as means of increasing their purchasing power,” said Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of Food Marketing Institute. “Digital coupons add a welcomed high-tech layer of ease to the couponing adventure, but also introduce new possibilities of fraud that this set of guidelines seeks to address, keeping coupon use fair and simple for all consumers.”

Produced by the Joint Industry Coupon Committee (JICC), Voluntary Guidelines for Digital Coupons, shares model digital coupon practices in order to ensure a positive experience for consumers, proper settlement for retailers and effective and well-controlled promotions for manufacturers.

The Guidelines include:

  • An overview of the digital coupon lifecycle for those new to the topic
  • Standardized file layouts for set-up and redemption
  • Recommendations for validation of digital coupons without using visible barcodes
  • A checklist of key control points
  • Recommendations for clear coupon design
  • A discussion of stacking prevention and audits
  • The eight process components needed to prevent fraud

The Guidelines highlight the key distinctions between digital and paper coupons, including the presence of barcode data, distribution methods, consumer acquisition and presentment, purchase validation and offer set-up at point of sale.

The JICC is made up of member companies from GMA, FMI and NGA. The JICC considers the Voluntary Coupon Guidelines complimentary to the GS1 Digital Coupon Management Standard Specification. The JICC plans to work with the GS1–U.S. Member Organization to ensure clear communication of both important standards documents.

For a complete copy of Voluntary Guidelines for Digital Coupons, visit:



Based in Washington, D.C., the Grocery Manufacturers Association is the voice of more than 300 leading food, beverage and consumer product companies that sustain and enhance the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people in the United States and around the globe.

Founded in 1908, GMA is an active, vocal advocate for its member companies and a trusted source of information about the industry and the products consumers rely on and enjoy every day.  The association and its member companies are committed to meeting the needs of consumers through product innovation, responsible business practices and effective public policy solutions developed through a genuine partnership with policymakers and other stakeholders. 

In keeping with its founding principles, GMA helps its members produce safe products through a strong and ongoing commitment to scientific research, testing and evaluation and to providing consumers with the products, tools and information they need to achieve a healthy diet and an active lifestyle.  The food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry in the United States generates sales of $2.1 trillion annually, employs 14 million workers and contributes $1 trillion in added value to the economy every year.  For more information, please visit

Food Marketing Institute (FMI) conducts programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations on behalf of its nearly 1,250 food retail and wholesale member companies in the United States and around the world. FMI’s U.S. members operate more than 25,000 retail food stores and almost 22,000 pharmacies with a combined annual sales volume of nearly $650 billion.  FMI’s retail membership is composed of large multi-store chains, regional firms and independent operators. Its international membership includes 126 companies from more than 65 countries. FMI’s nearly 330 associate members include the supplier partners of its retail and wholesale members.

About The National Grocers Association: NGA is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry.  An independent retailer is a privately owned or controlled food retail company operating a variety of formats.  Most independent operators are serviced by wholesale distributors, while others may be partially or fully self-distributing.  Some are publicly traded but with controlling shares held by the family and others are employee owned.  Independents are the true "entrepreneurs" of the grocery industry and dedicated to their customers, associates, and communities.  NGA members include retail and wholesale grocers, state grocers associations, as well as manufacturers and service suppliers.  For more information about NGA, click here.