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Will 2017 Be the Year of the Mobile Coupon?


While many industries have been increasing their paperless operations in recent years, new research suggests that next year will be the prime time for grocers and CPG marketers to set in place or optimize their mobile couponing programs.

Among their primary objectives in 2017, brand marketers list “increase coupon redemption” (19 percent) and “customer loyalty acquisition” (19 percent), according to the 2017 "Mobile Marketing & Planning Report" from Boca Raton, Fla.-based mobile marketing services provider 3Cinteractive. Moreover, “coupon delivery” received the strongest vote for a plan to grow mobile marketing impact, at 36 percent. Retailers, including grocers, made up 29 percent of the 3,000 brand marketers surveyed for the report.

Mobile coupons have become a focal point for many coupon-friendly industries because of their ability to drive foot traffic, amplify redemption rates and increase customer lifetime value. Separate 3Cinteractive research even shows one brand in particular receiving four times the lift in redemptions and a 40 percent increase in basket size through the use of mobile wallet coupons.

“Because grocers often rely on CPG coupons to drive foot traffic, grocery retailers should be paying particular attention to what is happening in the mobile coupon space,” Margie Kupfer, VP of marketing, 3Cinteractive, told Progressive Grocer. “If they do not keep pace with the consumer’s mobile appetite, they will lose market share. This is particularly true with Millennials.”

For example, 40 percent of consumers have left a store because they left their coupon at home, Kupfer said. Enabling these coupons via mobile wallet addresses this challenge head-on, and allows for location-aware lock-screen messaging and updates, giving grocers a communication channel with customers.

The ability to use mobile wallets for such messaging is even more valuable than the ability to use them for coupons, the new research shows. Mobile wallet marketing ranked higher than mobile wallet payments as a 2017 initiative, at 22 percent versus 16 percent. This likely is because the former allows for a perpetual presence on the customer’s device, and also can enable location detection to send relevant messages at the exact moment of need.

Additionally, grocers need to adapt a complementary strategy to their apps to give them extra value, Kupfer said. Only about 10 percent of customers are likely to download a grocer’s app, meaning 90 percent will be left out of the conversation. Adding value such as the ability to download and use loyalty cards via mobile wallet is a “lightweight way” a grocer can engage more customers. Text messaging also has proved to be an effective channel to reach customers in their moment of need.

“Don’t be afraid to test and learn," Kupfer urged. "The best way to position your brand with these mobile trends is to test and measure the technology through pilots with your customers."

Grocers should start small, in a few stores or a specific geographic area. Mobile wallet coupons, for example, work with existing coupons and can be delivered through any digital channel a grocer might use – email, digital ads, social media – making for a simple, easy-to-implement start. Grocers then may use the results to optimize their strategy and find what provides the best experience for customers, and then grow the program from there.

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