The US mobile coupon market will be worth USD43bn by 2016, up from a predicted USD5.4bn this year, according to new research from Juniper. Virtual coupons will play a "pivotal role" in boosting the nascent mobile commerce market, pulling together different elements such as mobile ads, m-payments and loyalty schemes to catalyse the sector for physical retailers. Coupons are seen as an increasingly "integral" inclusion to mobile wallet schemes, such as those devised by Google, particularly as better targeting enables merchants to target customers not just based on location, but on lifestyle, preferences, work patterns and online browsing habits.
"Mobile coupons are going mainstream," says Juniper analyst David Snow. "Cost effective mobile coupon campaigns are now within the reach of smaller retailers providing them with an easy way to drive profitable footfall and build customer loyalty. To ignore the potential of mobile coupons would be to ignore the future of mobile commerce." While the market remains a nascent one as manufacturers, carriers and tech firms feel their way into the m-payments space and consumers remain wary, Juniper predicts redemption rates will soar in the US and in Europe over the next few years. However, Snow adds that users must be allowed to opt-in to coupon offers freely, to avoid being spammed with irrelevant ads and offers and to boost loyalty.
The research comes as investors eye the virtual coupon space with increasing enthusiasm, with CouponCabin.com recently receiving USD54m in funding, and fellow startups Coupons and CouponTrade also landing cash injections.