September 8, 2011, 1:18 PM

Retailers take note: Millions of mobile consumers redeem mobile coupons

9.5% of mobile phone users will redeem mobile coupons in 2011, firm predicts.

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9.5% of U.S. adult mobile phone users will access and redeem a mobile coupon this year, research firm eMarketer Inc. predicts. That’s 19.8 million consumers, up from 13.3 million, or 6.5%, last year.

The research firm says the number of consumers with mobile phones redeeming mobile coupons will jump to 28.7 million, or 13.5%, in 2012, and 35.6 million, or 16.5%, in 2013.

Retailers and consumer brands make mobile coupons available to consumers via text messages, mobile apps, m-commerce sites and 2-D bar codes for online and in-store shopping. There are numerous technology providers, such as Cellfire Inc., HipCricket Inc. and ShopText Inc., that offer online and mobile systems retailers and brands can use to get coupons into consumers’ hands.

With 9.5% of mobile consumers already using mobile coupons, retailers today should be considering how a mobile coupon program can fit into their overall mobile commerce strategy, says Noah Elkin, principal analyst at eMarketer.

“Think about mobile coupons as a complement to existing couponing mechanisms, not a substitute,” Elkin says. “Retailers can use a number of different tactics to build awareness of offers. Using multiple touch-points makes sense because that mirrors what consumers do. But they should also consider the unique benefits mobile offers, including enhanced targeting capabilities and speed to market. The ability to apply highly personalized characteristics, such as location, context, behavior and timeliness, to offers can increase their relevancy, and more effectively trigger a response.”

The growth in use of mobile coupons that eMarketer predicts is being driven by a variety of factors, including the fast-growing adoption of smartphones by consumers and subsequent increased use of the mobile web and mobile apps, Elkin says.

“Other factors spurring adoption of mobile coupons include convenience, improved targeting potential, speed to market and the prospect of high engagement rates, particularly with text message-based coupons,” he says. “Of course, the rising popularity of time-sensitive deals has fueled consumers’ seemingly insatiable appetite for discounts. As more smartphone owners access deals via e-mail or apps on their devices, mobile will emerge as an increasingly important link in the deals value chain.”

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