Smartphones are the new circulars.
With mobile payments on the rise according to recent studies, mobile coupons are following suit. In fact, in a recent report, British mobile research firm Juniper Research found that 560 million people worldwide use mobile coupons.
That number is expected to swell to more than 1 billion in the next five years, as more companies utilize mobile by integrating coupons into loyalty programs and sending them directly to consumers, rather than relying on aggregators.
And that could spell additional opportunities for brands looking to connect with consumers.
People get mobile coupons from daily deal websites like Groupon and coupon aggregators like RetailMeNot, as well as apps such as Yowza and The Coupons App, which alert users to coupons and deals in the nearby geographic area. But according to an August 4 Forrester Research report, more than half of mobile coupon users obtain them from emails sent by retailers.
“Everybody’s walking around with a computer in their pocket,” says Brian Hoyt, vice president of communications at RetailMeNot. “Businesses themselves are now adjusting to the consumer behavior. If they don’t make those investments in mobile and tablet, they’re missing out on a revenue opportunity and they realize that.”
According to Juniper, retailers see high redemptions from the coupons they send customers as text messages.
A Jupiter rep was not available for further comment.
“It’s getting to the right consumer and the right time with the right offer. That’s the power of mobile,” says Hoyt, who believes geotargeting is the industry’s biggest asset.
On the other hand, Juniper’s research found that retailers’ biggest mobile couponing hurdle is the lack of adequate technology for redemption at cash registers.
Bill Clifford, chief revenue officer at mobile advertising start-up SessionM, points out the point-of-sale issue is particularly prevalent at supermarkets, typically hotbeds of couponing.
“A lot of grocery stores are working in old POS that have been Frankensteined together so it’s really difficult for them to deploy a mobile coupon campaign,” he says.
Clifford notes that big box stores like Target are starting to turn around in that regard. He adds that mobile couponing will grow as technology improves, citing card-linking as an example.
“When you look at mobile, a lot of the excitement for brands is to be able to follow the user on their path of purchase,” he says.