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Marketers not keeping up with shift to contextual coupons: Forrester

Marketers are not keeping up with the overwhelming shift to digital and mobile when it comes to how consumers find, store and use coupons, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

In the report, “Count on Contextual Coupons,” Forrester Research found that 18 percent of consumers say they would use coupons more frequently if they could easily store them on their mobile phone. With the benefits of coupons extending beyond sales, the findings underscore the need for marketers to embrace mobile for their coupon programs.

“The biggest news from a mobile perspective is that consumers are essentially asking for brands to mobilize their paper and online coupons,” said Mark Tack, vice president of marketing at Vibes.This report found that nearly one in five consumers say they would use coupons even more if they could be stored on their phone.

“The reason for that is simple: How often do we forget a coupon at home compared to our phone?,” he said. “Being able to access coupons on the go makes for a better shopping experience for consumers, and brands would be well served to cater to this demand.”

Context-specific coupons
Forrester asserts that consumer use of coupons has shifted overwhelmingly to digital, with 66 million digital coupons redeemed in 2013, up 141 percent from 2012.

However, even as mobile wallets and applications now hand out context-specific coupons at critical moments, most marketers still rely on free-standing inserts.

Forrester recommends that marketers consider the ability of context to improve the relevance of coupons the same as it does for marketing messages. The report recommends marketers personalize their physical and digital coupon offers and distribution.

This is an area where mobile can help, as the device is with consumers nearly all the time.

For example, mobile wallets enable a new way for marketers to drive coupon redemption and store visits by delivering a coupon to a specific user when the user is in close prolixity to a store. The report points to Pep Boys, which sees a 30 percent redemption rate in-store from digital coupons that customers can save to Apple Passbook or Google Wallet.

Influencing redemption
Coupons are an important marketing channel for marketers because they provide a number of benefits beyond simply sales, including boosting brand awareness, driving preference, increasing shopping frequency and reducing decision stress.

However, marketers should keep in mind that some demographic groups have different coupon preferences.

Baby boomers love grocery coupons, wealthy consumers are active bargain-hunters, older buyers want healthcare discounts and Gen Y likes to use coupons on travel and entertainment.

“The best way to make your coupons accessible on smartphones is through mobile wallet apps: Apple’s Passbook for iPhones – which Apple is changing to Wallet later this year – and Google Wallet for Android devices – which Google is changing to Android Pay later this year,” Mr. Tack said.

“Coupons stored in Passbook and Google Wallet are a great tool because marketers can drive coupon redemption and store visits by delivering a coupon to a specific user when they are in close proximity of the store, or reminding the consumer that the coupon is sitting in their mobile wallet,” he said.

“As opposed to print coupons where the customer drives all usage, coupons in mobile wallet give brands the opportunity to influence redemption and create a lasting, interactive relationship with customers.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York