Mobile Coupons And You: A Primer

Coupons. Ugh. Have those things gone away forever yet?

To answer that hypothetical question: No, coupons have not gone away. Furthermore, hypothetical person who asked it: Why are you so aggressive toward coupons? What did coupons ever do to you?

Wait — we’ve got it. You must’ve had a bad experience in a checkout line once, waiting behind some sweet old lady who perhaps struggled somewhat in producing, unfolding and sorting out paper coupons that she had painstakingly cut out of a weekly circular.

Lady was just trying to save some money, dude (we assume that you, hypothetical person, are a dude); what’s wrong with that? Everybody likes to save money, and everybody has the right to save money in whatever (legal) way he or she can.

And guess what? According to a recent survey from RetailMeNot, coupons remain the primary method of savings among retail consumers, with more than three out of five of them actively seeking out coupons ahead of any other type of promotion.

So you can climb down off your high horse, hypothetical dude, as it appears that despite your righteous indignation regarding this sweet old lady having caused you to wait an extra minute or two before you could purchase your, let’s say … wine in a can (hypothetical dude strikes us as a Wine Bro), she represented the majority while you, with your unbridled hatred of coupons, are on the losing side of this argument.

Yes — this is an argument, regardless of the facts that (1) you, by nature of being hypothetical, don’t actually exist and (2) you’ve ceased asking any hypothetical questions or making any statements at all following the first line of this article.

But let’s not fight. We’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, here, and presume that your real point of contention is not with the sweet old lady and those like her who use coupons, but rather with the format of the coupon itself.

What do you mean, “format?” A coupon is a coupon.

Oh, you’re still here! That’s honestly a big relief; we were getting worried that we were talking to ourselves.

But, no — a coupon is not a coupon, not in the way you’re thinking. Your issue is with paper coupons; you find them antiquated. Would it surprise you to learn that most everybody else does, too? Take a look at what Marissa Tarleton, CMO, North America, RetailMeNot, Inc., said in the company’s press release about the survey:

"Coupons are no longer limited to Sunday circulars; however, coupons are still the No. 1 incentive that consumers prefer. Mobile has made coupons an on-demand activity, with nearly half of consumers preferring to look for coupons via a mobile app, the No. 1 choice for conducting searches.”

That’s interesting, Marissa.

No — she’s — she’s not here. We clearly stated that was a quote taken from another source. And, frankly, if you were actually addressing her, you could probably be more polite and call her “Ms. Tarleton.” But that’s neither here nor there; you’re hypothetically talking to us. We’re PYMNTS.


We understand you’re being glib, but you know what? We’ll take the honorific. You can call us “Ms. PYMNTS,” or “Ms.,” or “Ms., a Subsidiary of Market Platform Dynamics.”

What’s Market Platform Dynamics —

You’ve gotten us way off track, here, hypothetical dude.

Your presumed encounter with the sweet old lady fussing with her paper coupons was an outlier. Mobile is where it’s at for coupons today. According to the RetailMeNot study, more than 40 percent of consumers search for coupons using a mobile app. You find one you can use, it’s got a barcode or a QR built right in, it gets zapped by the scanner at checkout, and you’re on your way.

On your way … to savings!

Oof. No. You’re on your way out the door, because the savings were instantaneous and the transaction is complete. Mobile makes everything quicker and easier; that’s why it has taken off as a form of couponing, surpassing usage rates of tactile paper coupons and even of those that shoppers download on a computer.

Not only do mobile-based coupons expedite the related purchase, but — as the RetailMeNot study shows — they’ve also actually taken on a big role in the planning stage of shopping. According to the study, 42.8 percent of consumers primarily use mobile devices to search for and select coupons in advance. Cutting out paper coupons at home, like your sweet old lady had done? That’s on the downslide, posting at 35.9 percent in the survey.

"These results highlight the need for retailers to have an omnichannel presence when it comes to offers. Print is the medium in which retailers have had decades to optimize against redemption, but the greenfield opportunity exists in mobile and omnichannel coupons.”

Why was that in quotes?

Because we didn’t say it. Those were the words of David Shim, founder and CEO of Placed, in the press release. Placed is a location-based insights and mobile ad intelligence company that partnered with RetailMeNot on the survey.

And RetailMeNot is…?

An online coupon and deal marketplace. It also has a coupon app. In fact, according to the survey, the RetailMeNot app was ranked No. 2 among all shopping apps by the respondents — second only to Amazon’s app.

RetailMeNot, which conducted the survey, found in the survey that its own shopping app was more popular than any other except for Amazon’s?


That doesn’t seem at all suspicious to you?

"Based on the number of deal seekers combined with the shift to mobile and the few number of apps consumers turn to, it is critical that retailers build out an ecosystem of partnerships to reach mobile shoppers.”

That was in quotes.

That’s because Marissa Tarleton said it, in the press release.

Why are you avoiding my question?

Hypothetical people can’t ask questions. This conversation — which technically didn’t happen, we remind you — is over.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.