In 1887 Asa Candler struck on a brilliant idea. For Coca-Cola to gain mass appeal, people needed to actually try their product. His solution? Hand-written coupons for free bottles of Coca-Cola.
Within 20 years, more than 10% of Americans had received a free Coca-Cola.
Candler’s handmade legacy is evolving in the mobile mobile. The expansion of mobile discounts provides a new opportunity for marketers to provide frictionless, paperless deals to consumers. In particular, the expansion of location-based services will fuel the growth of this area.
Mobile couponing is expected to see large growth. According to a report from eMarketer, an estimated 6.5% of mobile owners, or 13.3 million Americans, had used mobile coupons in 2010. By 2013 over 35 million Americans are expected to be mobile coupon users, tripling the size of the market within 3 years.
Mobile Loyalty Programs
The benefits of mobile discounts are now even moving beyond coupons.
The location-based services available on smartphones open new opportunities for retailers, hotels, and other venues to build loyalty with their consumers.
There are multiple approaches to mobile loyalty programs, but a few recent initiatives stand out.
- TopGuest lets users link their Foursquare, Facebook, and Instagram accounts so that every time a user checks in or posts a photo at one of the hotels, they get even more points and discounts added to their account.
- American Express has partnered with Foursquare for check-in based offers. If you check in at a partner location on Foursquare and pay with your AmEx, you automatically receive a discount on your credit card statement.
- AmEx has a similar program with Facebook, but the focus is on Likes rather than check-ins. If you like a retailer, grocer, or brand on Facebook, AmEx will automatically add discounts to those partners on your statement. No printing, no coupons, no scanning a barcode on a mobile screen.
Getting Ahead of the Curve
One big advantage for mobile discounts is that they replace the need for carrying fat stacks of coupons around in your wallet.
An area to watch is the new Google Wallet initiative, which uses near-field communication (NFC) to let users pay for goods, manage loyalty points, and store discounts for instant redemption at check out.
Other disruptions coming down the pipeline will include the further gamification of loyalty programs like TopGuest’s, and the integration of more discounts triggered by events such as walking past a vending machine or attending sponsored events.
If you’re still unconvinced of the benefits of mobile discounts to simplify shoppers’ lives, I’ll let Google Wallet’s promotional video speak for itself: