Don’t Discount Digital Coupons

A recent Mediapost Research Brief highlighted strong growth in digital coupons in 2009. For the first time in two decades, coupon use grew last year, thanks largely to digital coupons, which were redeemed ten to one over newspaper coupons. Among online categories, coupons/ rewards was the fifth fastest growing Internet category last year, according to Nielsen.

Of course, the bad economy is compelling consumers to be more frugal and driving the use of coupons. Also driving the popularity of coupons is their ready availability on websites like, where shoppers can search for coupons that match their wish-list. Ready to eat cereals were at the top of the list.

But there’s got to be a better way for me to use my Borders coupon than printing it out from my email and bringing it to the store. In fact, a few weeks ago when I found myself in a store without my coupon, I pulled out my iPhone, searched my email for my coupon, and flashed my coupon code at the register for my 40% discount.

Mobile couponing makes that a whole lot easier. Companies like JC Penney, Starbucks and Dominos are working with mobile coupon company Cellfire to reach a younger demographic with coupon offers that match those in newspaper ads.”We are seeing redemption rates of 10% to 20%. This is much higher than traditional paper coupons, which only see about 0.5% redemption,” said Brent Dusing, CEO of Cellfire. “On the mobile phone, you can target offers to consumers who are on the go.”

Shoppers can visit the Cellfire site and get offers that are available in their area. One drawback at this point is that consumers are not aware of the coupons – they don’t know where to get them or how to redeem them. That’s why it seems like an opportunity for local radio, which could raise awareness and drive adoption by offering these coupons as part of a shopping service on their websites. Listeners can log in and look for local offers. As stations look for more and more ways to interact with their listeners and add value to their lives, this looks like an opportunity.

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