While customers like coupons and retailers like customers, everybody appears to like mobile technology. That's why campaigns that incorporate all three - in a variety of permutations - are becoming increasingly popular.
Among other twists, retailers have recently launched hyper-local mobile coupon campaigns that enable consumers to use coupons - sent to them on their cellphones - at the point of sale. This often makes for an easier purchase.
A mobile coupon designed for Minneapolis' Seward Co-op - for 50 cents off the deli - that was sent out on Twitter, is an example of such a hyperlocal coupon effort. It used MixMobi, a mobile marketing startup, which has built a technology platform that lets retailers offer coupons on Twitter, by cell as well as online.
In another case, JC Penney joined forces with mobile marketing company Cellfire to offer customers a way to download and carry coupons on their mobile phones that can be scanned at the register directly from the phone's display screen.
In addition, at least 16 stores in the Houston metro area have been equipped with these imaging scanners that can read the "2D" barcode coupons. Consumers can register for Cellfire by texting "JCP" to 22888 on their phones.
Coupon aggregators are also moving to bolster their mobile phone bona fides. Coupons.com recently began offering hyper-local, mobile offerings to users: Its Show & Save coupons now include more than 12,000 such deals that can be redeemed directly from a mobile phone. The site also has launched an iPhone app that enables users to browse a list of available coupons based on their GPS location. In addition, they can pull up a map leading them directly to the merchant offering the savings.
Direct mail coupon veteran Valpak has gotten into the act by introducing an iPhone app that lets customers access mobile coupons from more than 17,000 businesses. It tracks the user's location by zip code to serve up the locally targeted offers.
Online as a Guide
Mobile couponing is bound for greater use, if online take up of these deals is any indication. A number of recent studies have shown that online coupon-clipping is becoming increasingly popular among most demographics as the economic doldrums drive more shoppers to the internet for deals.