By Karen Axelton
Does your product or service cater to young, tech-savvy consumers? If so, mobile coupons are a small, but growing trend you should be taking notice of.
The New York Times recently wrote about mobile coupons, and I was intrigued because a friend and I had just been talking about our teenage and college-age nieces and nephews and how attached they are to their cell phones—especially if those phones are iPhones.
So it made sense to read that “Mobile coupons — usually text messages with discount codes sent to a cellphone — are becoming the blue-light specials for the digital age.” Use of mobile coupons has grown by 25 percent in the first half of this year (when about 10 million digital coupons were redeemed) compared to the same time period in 2008.
Customers can get the coupons by signing up directly with a company, or by visiting sites like 8coupons, Cellfire, Yowza and Zavers that aggregate coupons. There’s even an iPhone app for coupons, Coupon Sherpa. No need to clip, or to lug around a bunch of scraps of paper. That’s why users in their 20s who normally wouldn’t be caught dead couponing are loving the digital discounts. “It doesn’t feel like it has the same stigma as walking up to the cashier with a Velcro pouch, fishing around for a coupon, like my mom used to do,” says one. (Ouch. I’m a mom, and even I feel like a dork doing that!)
Are mobile coupons ready for prime time with small businesses? Apparently so—the Times cites a small bakery that used digital coupons to drive traffic to a one-day sale, and garnered 500 customers.
For people with feature-rich phones, digital coupons work because they’re a no-brainer: They make it convenient to save by using something you always have with you. There are still some bugs to be worked out of this technology, but one look around at people and their phones next time you’re in any public place should convince you that if you’re a retailer, digital coupons are something to investigate.