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Top 10 mobile coupon-enabled campaigns of 2015

As consumers increasingly turn to mobile for smart ways to save and shop, mobile coupons was one strategy that reigned supreme among retailers, quick service restaurants and consumer packaged goods brands this year.

Mobile’s influential stamp on commerce has been indisputable this year, what with the proliferation of payment platforms such as Apple Pay and Android Pay, as well as the rise of shopping applications including Ibotta and RetailMeNot. Major retailers were forced to step up their mobile efforts in 2015, resulting in the release of features such as Snapchat geofilters and buy now buttons on social media.

However, one particular strategy resonated most positively with consumers: mobile coupons. Shoppers are now more than ever seeking virtual clippings that they can save into their favorite stores’ apps or their mobile wallets of choice. This prompted a slew of marketers to roll out campaigns and giveaways centered on mobile couponing, consequently ramping up digital sales and in-store traffic, in some cases.

Here are the top 10 mobile-enabled campaigns of 2015, in alphabetical order. leads charge for local deals on Apple Watch was one of the first marketers to jump on pre-sales of the Apple Watch last spring by  ramping up brand opportunities on the smartwatch with an app that delivered personalized deals based on location.

The Apple Watch app enabled wearers to view digital savings and receive coupons with a single tap on their wrist, greatly simplifying the shopping process. Therefore, major retailers including Macy’s and Old Navy were able to send targeted coupons to passersby, increasing the potential for an in-store visit. claimed this was the first of its kind digital savings app for the Apple Watch.

Dunkin’ Donuts overflows competition with mobile gift and coupon blitz
Over the summer, Dunkin’ Donuts distributed mobile gift cards to winners of one of its social media sweepstakes while it offered a coupon to app users ahead of the busy back-to-school season, proving it maintains the wherewithal to stand in direct competition with Starbucks in the food and beverage sector.

The brand offers its DD Perks app users a mobile coupon containing a $1 discount to use toward a K-Cup Pod box. Caffeine fans undoubtedly stocked up on branded products for their Keurig coffee machines while waiting in line for their orders at Dunkin’ Donuts stores.

The quick service chain understands the importance of offering frequent rewards to loyalty members, a strategy that has helped propel its loyalty platform to the top.

Jack in the Box turns live event into mobile coupon for enduring power
The hamburger chain extended the life of a record-setting 80-foot-tall coupon by bringing it to fans across the United States via mobile, showcasing how live events can be transformed into mobile offers.

Jack in the Box sought to boost awareness of its Buttery Jack burger by offering customers a smartphone-specific coupon. The brand then asked those individuals to share the discount with friends and family via social media with a designated hashtag.

The buy one, get one free coupon for Buttery Jack burgers went viral, resulting in a dramatic increase of in-store foot traffic as well as many photo opportunities for the marketer. Consumers were also encouraged to upload personal images via the #WorldsLargestCoupon hashtag.

Kmart fuels holiday sales with revamped mobile coupons, layaway features
Kmart underscored smartphones’ roles as omnipresent shopping buddies by launching a plethora of updated app features ahead of the holidays, such as real-time push notifications for limited-time specials and exclusive coupons.

The retailer’s Free Friday Fix tool allows shoppers to receive a coupon each Friday that they can redeem in-store for a free gift with purchase. The ability to rely on the app for a timely discount will likely resonate well with Kmart customers, especially those trying to save money while purchasing holiday gifts at this time of year.

Additionally, the Kmart Coupon Center feature was developed to make it easy for customers to apply optimal savings to their purchases. Users may upload applicable coupons to their in-app Shop Your Way accounts. Discounts will be automatically applied during checkout.

Minyard Sun Fresh Market adds mobile circulars, coupons to shoppers’ carts
Minyard Sun Fresh Market leveraged a mobile shopper engagement solution to roll out digital weekly circulars, personalized deals and rewards to customers’ smartphones to bolster the in-store experience.

Consumers were not required to download another app to receive the coupons. Instead, the market’s platform provider used SMS codes to drive users to a microsite. The brand used location data to pinpoint where shoppers were in the grocery store, and subsequently followed up with links to sale items and coupons related to nearby products.

As beacon technology continues to be adopted by stores, consumers can expect to see many more grocery chains leverage proximity targeting when sending digital deals to visitors’ smartphones.

Reese’s scores with bracket-themed social promotion tied to mobile coupon
The Hershey Company’s Reese’s brand unwrapped sales and awareness of its candy products by collaborating with the National Collegiate Athletic Association to sponsor an annual College All-Star Game, and leveraging a bracket-themed promotion on social media that offered coupons to mobile users.

The brand peppered its social media accounts with sports-related images and GIFs featuring Reese’s products, excelling in boosting excitement for the game. It also treated sports enthusiasts with free candy.

Individuals were encouraged to click the “Reese’s Starting Lineup” tab on Facebook, or click the link visible in several posts. That action took them to Reese’s own mobile-optimized, March Madness-inspired bracket. Guests then had to fill out their top five favorite Reese’s items, after which they earned a coupon for a free Reese’s item up to $2.

Target Cartwheel’s responds to user habits, allowing organization of coupons
In October, Target revamped its coupon mobile app to better cater to in-store shoppers during the checkout process with the ability to reorder the digital coupons with the tap of a finger, showing how small changes can streamline the user experience while simultaneously driving increasing sales.

The recent Cartwheel app update features a tool with which users may change the order of their coupons by clicking and dragging them with their fingers. The retailer claimed to notice that consumers were using the mobile app to keep track of purchases, prompting Target to roll out the new feature in a bid to help organization.

Cartwheel’s users may also add coupons from printouts onto their smartphones, removing the fear of losing or misplacing paper clippings.

Toys R Us integrates app, print coupons and loyalty for new omnichannel experience
Toys R Us joined forces with search platform Slyce to allow individuals to snap a picture of a receipt, catalog or newspaper coupon and generate a mobile-optimized version to save within the retailer’s app.

Toys R Us likely experienced more eye traffic with its paper catalogues and advertisements, as customers flocked to grab photos of the featured coupons and convert them into digital deals to keep on their smartphones. Additionally, this technology may have bolstered Toys R Us’ efforts with boosting CRM data, as retailers can link users who scan a coupon’s bar code to their loyalty program lists.

The company was well-poised to experience higher revenue following this integration as well, as consumers who happened to stumble across an unmissable deal may have decided to make an impromptu purchase with the brand.

Unilever beacon play serves up soup, engagement in online-offline blend
A Swedish Unilever iBeacon program that combined an outdoor sampling truck with a mobile coupon demonstrated how CPG marketers are ramping up beacon use to connect the physical and digital worlds to fuel revenue as well as customer engagement.

Subscribers of the Swedish newspaper app Aftonbladet who tried a Knorr soup sample from a curbside truck in Stockholm later received a soup coupon in the publisher’s app during a subsequent browsing session.

The next time that users opened up the newpaper’s app, the downloadable coupons reminded them of the ongoing sampling campaign and offered another chance to try some of the delectable soup. This development was primarily created to transform Knorr’s brand image from old-fashioned to digitally-savvy.

Victoria’s Secret builds fashion show frenzy via Instagram-enabled coupon
Victoria’s Secret stirred up excitement for its annual fashion show by asking customers to partake in a social-enabled party on November 10. Visitors were tasked to request a ticket in stores, take a photo with the ticket and upload the image onto Instagram in exchange for a $10 coupon to use on a purchase.

Customers were thrilled at the prospect of receiving a hefty discount on their in-store purchase, while the lingerie retailer got to enjoy a flurry of posts on social media that led to greater brand awareness.

Once shoppers showed their uploaded photo to an employee, they were able to receive the $10 off coupon. Social media users who saw the barrage of pictures on Instagram were then inspired to visit a nearby Victoria’s Secret store themselves, proving that organic, earned media can be just as effective as paid advertising in some cases.

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York