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Target tests instant offers as mobile couponing program grows

Target is testing instant  coupons in select stores with additional on-demand promotions planned for the future as mobile coupon enrollment grows.

The Text to Get instant coupon promotion is part of Target’s broader strategy of reaching out to mobile users with special offers and coupons. Enrollment in the retailer’s opt-in mobile coupon program has doubled since February of this year, according to Target.

“On demand promotions such as instant mobile coupons run for a limited amount of time,” said  Molly Koesnt, spokeswoman for Target, Minneapolis, MN..

“The programs themselves have run from 2 – 6 weeks,” she said. “While the promotions have a short life-span, these types of promotions will continue throughout the future.”

The current instant coupon promotion will end on July 29.

Mobile initiative
Target plans to continue to build out its mobile coupon program.

“We continue to enroll our guests in the mobile coupon program,” Ms. Koenst said.

Consumers can sign up for the program via the mobile Web, online, or by texting the keyword COUPONS to the short code 827438 (Target).

The ongoing mobile blast is delivered to a consumer’s mobile device every two weeks and features anywhere from five to ten coupons.

After opting in, consumers receive a text message with a link to a mobile Web page that contains multiple single-use offers, all accessible through a single bar code. 

Target was the first retailer to have the ability to scan a bar code directly from a mobile device at any store nationwide, which was introduced last spring.  

Mobile coupons are promoted through a variety of vehicles, including Target’s weekly ad circular, in-store signage, Facebook call-outs and print magazine ads.

“At Target, we recognize our guests are connected, through a multitude of mobile and social networking technologies,” said Kristy Welker, spokeswoman at Target. “By leveraging innovative technologies, we are delivering highly-relevant and differentiated shopping solutions that are personal, simple, and accessible anywhere and anytime.”

Mobile coupons
Mobile coupons are an important strategy for retailers to drive customers into stores while instant coupons can help retailers drive incremental sales and loyalty.

“When it comes to instant mobile coupons, it’s important to provide shoppers with the greatest possible value,” said John Caron, senior vice president of marketing at Modiv Media, Quincy, MA.

“Value doesn’t necessarily mean discounts, it means helping shoppers save money on items that they have bought recently, like to buy often, and are likely to purchase again,” he said. “It’s all about intelligent targeting.”

Mr. Caron is not affiliated with Target and spoke based on his expertise on the subject.

Targeting customers with instant coupons while they are in-store helps retailers  reach consumers when they are ready to buy.

“By delivering a truly relevant and targeted offer, retailers can influence purchase decisions,” Mr. Caron said. “If retailers can impact customers when they are in the aisle with their wallets are open, they’ve done their job.”

The challenge for retailers is presenting offers that drive incremental sales and boost loyalty, per Mr. Caron.

Mobile coupons are also a way for retailers to add some excitement to the shopping experience.

“Instant coupons gamify the shopping experience because you can unlock something special each time you go to the store,” said Steen Andersson, cofounder/vice president  at 5thFinger, San Francisco. “I think it is a great opportunity.

“In-store coupons tend to more for pushing people to buy certain products in the store,” he said.

“Retailers can look at a customer’s purchase history and try to drive them to a particular area of the store where they don’t usually shop.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is assoc. editor on Mobile Commerce Daily