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Using GPS to Drive Promos

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Until now, most consumers have used GPS to get driving directions, but Sears and Pier 1 Imports are experimenting with a new use for GPS: driving promotions.

Yowza, an application that’s available on both iPhone and iPod Touch devices, scouts out promotions and discount offers within a 15-mile radius. The free app joins a growing list of mobile coupon applications, including Coupon Sherpa, which lets consumers hunt for store deals before checking out.

Yowza is different, however, in that consumers aren’t limited to a particular manufacturer’s brand of products, nor are they required to download offers online before redeeming in store.

Mike Wehrs, president of the Mobile Marketing Association, said this is the first GPS-based couponing app he knows of, but thinks the idea could catch on. “Any time you insert a concept such as ‘location’ into a marketing program, you end up with a far more compelling value proposition,” he said.

 Sears will begin running offers on Yowza, including one promising 15 percent off Kenmore appliances this week. Michael Léger, online and emerging media merchandise manager for Sears, said that though the brand skews older, a push like this will reach younger consumers. “It's a tough environment out there now,” he said, adding that Yowza is “just another avenue for us to talk about the savings we have out there.”

Adding to Yowza’s appeal is the fact that one of its co-founders, Greg Grunberg, is actually one of the stars of the NBC TV series Heroes. (He plays Matt Parkman, a police officer who can read people’s minds.) That, along with the popularity of Apple’s iPhone apps and the surge in digital coupon redemption, adds to Yowza’s appeal.

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