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Study: Coupons Drive Smartphone Users to Stores

Study: Coupons Drive Smartphone Users to Stores
Christina Hammarberg

How many of you have gone shopping, smartphone in hand, from the comfort of your own couch? How about in your pajamas at 3 a.m.? I'm willing to bet that quite a few of you have (with slight variations on the when, where and attire of choice.) This, ladies and gentlemen, is the present - and future - of mobile shopping. And with this kind of convenience at our fingertips, why should we (as consumers) ever bother to set foot in an actual store again?

To get a great deal, that's why!

Seems a bit counterintuitive, doesn't it? Well, according to the results of “Engaging the Mobile Shopper,” a shopping study conducted by Fetch, a global mobile agency, many U.S. consumers are willing to leave the comfort of their homes for a coupon. In fact, of the over 300 adults aged 18-60 that were surveyed, a whopping 65 percent responded that receiving a mobile ad containing a promotion or coupon on their smartphone would prompt them to get up off the couch and head to the store. Probably not at 3 a.m., but you get the idea.

The Power of the Smartphonesmartphone shopping walking

If you own a smartphone of any kind, chances are you have used it as part of a mobile shopping experience. Have ever sat in the parking lot of a retail store and checked its current flier - or a competitor's flier - before deciding it if was worth your time to enter. How about using your phone to research product or brand reviews before buying? In its report, Fetch has taken the most common shopping activities by smartphone users and divided them into three phases: Pre-Store, In-Store and Post-Store. Researching and reviewing before you even enter the store is considered the Pre-Store phase. This is also the phase where many retailers will try their hardest to get you to come shop in their store.

As a smartphone user, you may notice that there are more and more stores offering mobile ads, promotions and coupons. You may also notice how “smart” these ads and coupons seem – as if they are zeroing in on where, when and how you shop. Because they are.  Fetch confirms that more and more retailers are using location-based and keyword-targeted ad technology; they hone in on your mobile shopping habits and browsing history to bring you coupons and deals for the products you want from the stores and brands you already like. It may seem a bit, well, intrusive, but the truth is that many U.S. shoppers kind of like it. Sixty-five percent of Fetch's survey participants said they appreciated this kind of targeted marketing, particularly when they are already in the store.

Shopping Apps: In-Store and More

The survey also reveals that even after consumers have reached phase two (the In-Store phase), they are still using their smartphones to search product reviews and relevant coupons. No surprise there, though! In fact, 61 percent said that receiving a mobile ad with a coupon would motivate them to make an in-store purchase and 54 percent would like it if they received notifications about current store promotions while they were in a particular store.

Some savvy retailers – like Target - are ahead of the curve, offering customers the opportunity to sign up for in-store coupons alerts righttarget cartwheel app from their smartphone. Just plug your name, zip code, phone number and preferred time of day for the alerts and bam! You will be texted new coupons hot off the press. Target also has its own shopping app, Target Cartwheel, which enables customers to browse in-store prices without being in the store. CVS, Walgreens, Forever 21 are just a few others that offer similar apps.

However, many retailers are still uncertain about taking on the mobile shopping trend. Guillame Lelait, VP of North America, Fetch, says, “Some retailers are still wary of the mobile revolution as they deem it to have a negative effect on their brick-and-mortar retail sales, but our study concludes that when retailers embrace mobile, they can reap the benefits.” Lelait believes that most retailers still see smartphones – and other mobile devices – simply as a means of staying connected to their customers, rather than providing a full shopping experience. Indeed, the study results conclude that targeted messaging through mobile ads is an effective way for retailers to communicate with their customers and possibly influence their purchasing decisions.

It Pays to Shop Mobile

Lucky for us, coupons remain a key marketing tool for most retailers, many of them offering exclusive app-based or mobile-ad-based deals and coupons. The only “catch” is that these kinds of deals are designed to get consumers into the stores as they are often relevant to products and offers available in nearby locations rather than at the store website. Not a terrible trade-off, if you ask me.

What does the future of mobile shopping hold? Fetch interviewed several retail executives across a number of industries for their insights, and nearly all agree that we are very likely to see smarter, more personalized apps, ads and coupons on our smartphones in the near future. Wouldn't it be great to have a coupon delivered to your phone for every product you need to shop for before even leaving the house? No searching or swiping required. That would be enough to get me off the couch, for sure!

To read the full report and whitepaper, visit


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