There were an estimated 560 million digital coupon users in 2014, and that number is expected to grow to over a billion by 2019, according to a new study by Juniper Research.
The growth comes as retailers continue to seek ways to engage directly with consumers. They are using SMS, MMS and NFC to target consumers who are nearby, giving them relevant discounts to entice them into locations.
It is an uphill battle of sorts, however. In a study released earlier this year, PunchTab found that consumers are concerned about privacy when it comes to retailers tracking their movements, with half of the respondents saying they opted out of tracking, and a third worrying about being sent irrelevant or intrusive offers.
Some companies are opting for branded mobile shopping apps, where consumers can choose to download the app on their smartphones and receive offers specifically geared toward their expressed interests. But even those aren’t completely foolproof. The FTC warned recently that many mobile shopping apps were not clear in their policies regarding the collection and use of data. The agency advised consumers to pay closer attention, and choose only those apps that have clear, open data policies.
The message is that mobile coupons as a platform are not disappearing any time soon, although the technology used to get them to consumers is still in flux. MMS, the Juniper report notes, is expected to mostly fade out, while NFC and similar technologies are expected to continue to grow as better point-of-sale redemption methods are developed and consumer privacy concerns are addressed.