For years, I’ve subscribed to the Sunday LA Times and the Orange County Register just to get the coupons. Thanks to these glossy bits of goodness, I save around $30 a week on my grocery bill which far outweighs the cost of the paper. But this past Monday, I noticed something. I didn’t cut the coupons on Sunday and I didn’t cut them out the week before either. And you know what? I might cancel the paper altogether because now, I get all the coupons I need online and on my mobile phone.
A few weeks ago, I downloaded the new Vons grocery store app that lets you see which digital coupons are on your card and add new ones on the fly. It has completely changed the way I grocery shop.
This has not been an easy transition. I still worry when I watch the register count down to my final total, wondering if every one of my digital coupons has been applied. I’ve even gone so far as to test the system by handing the cashier the printed out versions of the same coupon to see if they’re rejected. (Meaning, the register already deducted the digital version – no double-dipping.)
Juniper Research says that mobile users are likely to redeem 10 billion coupons this year, up more than 50% over last year. And though mobile coupons have been slow to catch on, they have a higher average redemption rate of 10% compared to traditional print media and PC coupons which is around 1%.
eMarketer has some additional information on the subject. They say that digital coupon usage via a PC has reached a plateau. People are still using coupon codes and printing coupons but growth has flatlined.
Smartphone coupon usage rose 66% last year. As you can see from this chart, the change percentage is expected to decline but only because we saw such rapid adoption in 2010 and 2011. The percentage of smartphone users who redeem mobile coupons will continue its slow but steady growth.
Are extreme couponers going to give up their paper circulars in favorite of digital magic? Probably not, but mobile is making it easier for the occasional couponer to try a new product at a discount with very little advance planning.
Phones aren’t the only thing getting smarter. Retailers are, too.