03/27/2010 02:18 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Opportunities Abound: Mobile Couponing and the Value Chain

Have the days of the Sunday circular disappeared? As marketers seek new and innovative ways to reach the connected consumer, digital executives are deploying technologies that are displacing traditional methods of communicating with consumers in the offline world. Increasingly, consumers are turning to their mobile phones for information and offers on-the-go.

On the heels of 2ergo"s acquisition of ActiveMedia Technologies Group (AMT), providers of mobile ticketing, coupon and customer loyalty solutions, I would like to share with you some insight into the mobile couponing market and what we can expect to see as this industry continues to expand.

The Market Is Rapidly Expanding

Of U.S. consumers participating in a mobile marketing campaign, 24 percent receive SMS alerts about sales and 22 percent obtain mobile coupons that can be redeemed at stores or restaurants.* When you look at the mobile coupon market across the globe, Juniper Research reports that mobile coupons are expected to reach 200 million redemptions worldwide by 2013, with the Far East, North America and Western Europe expected to account for the majority of those redemptions.

The Dollars, The Value Chain and The Benefits of Personalization

The argument for mobile marketing has been widely proven in a number of case studies with brands flocking to this medium and adding it to their arsenal of communication tools. More importantly, the data and statistics point to a bright future for mobile coupons. Jupiter Research estimates that by 2011, over 87 billion dollars in sales will be generated by mobile coupons.

What does this mean for the consumers, the retailers and the smart brands that will all benefit across the entire value chain?

Consumers, whose phones have now become an extension of themselves, have access to offers and information on-the-go. No more clipping coupons and shoving them into the depths of a junk drawer in the kitchen never to be seen or redeemed. They are stored on the handset and ready to be accessed at the point of sale.

For retailers, the handling of coupons can be an operational nightmare. Cashiers must handle the physical coupon and then store managers must coordinate, calculate and report on the total number of coupons collected and the redemption dollars they represent. Mobile couponing automates this process, eliminates the paper trail and its inherent losses and ultimately helps to drive foot traffic into the store.

For the smart brand marketer, distribution has now become more efficient and cost effective. Printing costs are reduced as coupons make it into the hands (or should I say handsets) of targeted consumers much faster. In addition, GPS technology allows marketers to better target consumers. Couponing can be delivered in a timely and targeted manner based on location. As a bonus for the brands, the data captured will determine the success and ROI of the campaign.

The Green Side of Mobile Coupons

Everyone is talking about "greener" living. From recycling and composting to the reduction of paper usage and the purchase of hybrid vehicles, more and more of us are gravitating to products and services that subscribe to the green philosophy.

If you think about the processes involved in traditional coupon printing, you begin to realize just how green mobile couponing really is. The cost (both economical and environmental) of printing and distributing traditional paper coupons is considerably higher than distributing mobile versions. Environmental benefits include the reduction of paper usage, elimination of printing ink, lack of gasoline usage for getting the printed coupons to distribution centers, and so on. The opportunities to reduce waste and reduce cost through this communication tool represent incredible opportunities for marketers and for our environment.

Mobile couponing has been in existence for about six years, and its growth has been explosive. Better technology on both the back end and the consumer facing side has made it easier for brands to embrace this new method of communication. What is even better is that programs like these can be seamlessly tied into a well-rounded mobile marketing campaign including SMS programs, mobile Web sites and more. A brand's well-executed program benefits not only the consumer but the environment as well. Now isn't that something we can all value?

Source: Mobile Marketing Association, "2008 Mobile Attitude & Usage Study"

Chris Brasington

CEO Starfish Consultants