Mobile Coupons Slowly Gain Steam With Users

The acceptance of mobile coupons was included in Paul Rosenfeld’s Five Can’t-Miss-Mobile Marketing Trends for 2010. We saw Google Honeywell survey conducted by Harris Interactive found that while mobile coupons ARE catching on, they’re not doing so at the speed many small business owners may have hoped. In fact, adoption is still pretty slow.

According to the study, customers are still hesitant to take advantage of mobile coupons as we roll out of the recession. The study found that just four percent of users surveyed had redeemed mobile coupons and that only 10 percent of users surveyed said they felt comfortable storing coupons on their mobile phone as opposed to printing them out. Not surprisingly, younger consumers are more likely to use mobile coupons.

And that really seems to be the trend. While most Americans still look to print for savings and find magazines the ‘most helpful’ form of advertising, younger shoppers are headed to their phones.

eMarketer noted:

Adults ages 18 to 44 preferred online ads for bargain hunting by a margin of at least 5 percentage points. The oldest respondents were the most likely to favor print, though they still thought Web ads were better for deal-seeking than direct mail or TV.

While current adoption numbers may be low, the signs for growth are there and offer interested retailers some hope. Sixty-six percent of younger adults said they were at least somewhat likely to try mobile coupons, with 31percent of overall respondents said they’d be willing to give their mobile number to a retailer in order to receive coupons. Not surprisingly, that number grew to one-half when talking to 18- to-34 year olds. And this echoes much of what we’ve seen with social media. Customers are willing to ‘friend’, ‘fan’ and ‘follow’ your brand if you’re willing to offer them discounts for doing so.

Though the numbers look bleak, I think the key takeaway here is that mobile coupons are catching on, especially for businesses targeting a younger demographic. Mobile coupons are still the new kid on the scene, with more companies, restaurants, and grocers starting to launch mobile coupons each month. Exposure is growing and with that comes adoption. As people get more comfortable shopping via their mobile devices and looking up information the go, mobile coupons become a natural extension of that.


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

10 Reactions
  1. Mitch @TheShoeDawg on Twitter

    Certainly mobilize will be a top trend for 2010. We’re in the process of of overhauling our web presence to be positioned for this. A quick, free, and easy tip for those looking to position their business with mobile coupons is Google’s local option to create mobile version coupons.

  2. Lisa,

    I have never been an “early adopter.” I am just not ready for more stuff being sent to anything of mine that’s plugged in, battery-powered, or heated.

    However, when I do decide to opt-in for some mobile coupons etc, I am sure it will be a good thing.

    Almost there….

    The Franchise King

  3. One of the hold-ups with mobile coupons is that people just aren’t quite sure how to use them yet. With paper coupons you know that you just give them to the cashier when you pay, but with mobile coupons it is a little less certain how and where you use them. Do I need to show you my phone? Just say I have a text coupon? You type my phone number into your terminal to check? This is new and unfamiliar, so it will take some getting used to.

  4. Mobile coupons are a great alternative to the paper coupons of yesterday. I don’t know anyone age 18-30 who still cuts out coupons.

    Interesting whether Groupon (and all of its copycats) will hop on this wagon. Their approach seems kind of archaic as well and would benefit from a mobile boost.

    My only question (same as above) is logistics. Do they scan the code on your cell phone screen itself? Does this technology already exist?


    Stella Fayman

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  5. I didn’t even know about the existence of mobile coupons until I read this article! Some of us are still using archaic phones that don’t play streaming video!

  6. I am always using my iPhone to confirm/justify purchases of products or if expensive get reviews, even to see if it’s cheaper overseas. Maybe retailers need to address this and make it easier for their products to be price compared or show a positive review on a trusted review blog. iPhones or whatever have by design made it easier for people to compare apples with apples.

  7. QR Codes are helping people to use mobile coupons. Instead of having to type, text or call to get one on your mobile phone, you can just scan the QR Code. Very convenient!

    Now if stores could display the QR Codes near or on products that have a coupon or near the store checkout or entrance then that would be even better!

    I’m from Japan where QR Codes are used like the way I’ve described above. I am in North America now with a mission to help promote the understanding and use of QR Codes in business and everyday life.