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Older set gravitating to mobile coupons: Study

August 18, 2009

dwight-mooreA new study from Cellfire Inc. claims that mobile coupons are gaining wider acceptance with older people.

The findings show that mobile coupon usage increased 119 percent over the last six months, with 94 percent of metro areas reporting a jump in usage.

“The key finding from our recent analysis is that more older adults are now making use of mobile coupons to save at their favorite stores and restaurants,” said Dwight Moore, vice president of corporate marketing at Cellfire, San Jose, CA.

“It is widely held that 18-34-year-olds are mobile-savvy and while this is true, the data suggests that adults aged 35 and greater recognize that the cell phone can be used for more than just talking,” he said.

Cellfire is a leading mobile discount offer and coupon service.

The company released the findings on the same day it secured $12 million in a third round of funding. Silver Creek Ventures led that round, along with existing investors Menlo Ventures and Storm Ventures.

In its study, Cellfire said shoppers under 34 made up 70 percent of mobile coupon usage. But redemption by consumers over 34 tripled in the last six months and now represents 30 percent of mobile coupon users.

“For marketers, this data means that the mobile device is a viable means for marketing to older adults, not just young adults,” Mr. Moore said. “This is especially true for mobile coupons, which are a highly preferred marketing incentive across all age groups.”

A recent independent survey from ABI Research shows that 63 percent of consumers felt that a coupon would be the most effective incentive to get them to respond to a mobile marketing message. 

ABI also found that 52 percent of consumers would use mobile coupons for a discount at a local store.

Mr. Moore said that from a consumer perspective, the challenge is providing relevant offers on a timely basis. Cellfire addresses relevance by only showing consumers offers based on their location.

Cellfire coupons are accessed via the Cellfire application, not through SMS text.

“SMS text coupons are easily lost in the consumer’s inbox and are often viewed as an intrusion,” Mr. Moore said.  “With Cellfire, consumers choose when to interact and they can always count on the coupons to be available in an organized manner that is easy to access and use.”

The challenge for advertisers is to provide compelling offers without the risk of over-redemption or fraudulent redemption. 

“Since Cellfire is an application and not SMS text, it is not possible for consumers to modify the offer terms or forward it beyond the advertiser’s control,” Mr. Moore said.

When a Cellfire coupon is redeemed it is automatically deleted from the phone.

“Advertisers like the performance they get from mobile coupons,” Mr. Moore said.  “Because the coupon is always with the consumer, they are more likely to use it. Our advertisers see redemption rates of 5-15 percent whereas redemption rates with traditional paper coupons are less than 1 percent, on average.”

Top 10 markets for mobile coupon usage per capita
1. Sacramento/Stockton/Modesto, CA (previously No. 2)
2. Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (previously No. 4)
3. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, CA (previously No. 7)
4. Atlanta (previously No. 10)
5. Monterey/Salinas, CA (previously No. 14)
6. Dayton, OH (previously No. 78)
7. Cincinnati, OH (previously No. 21)
8. Chico/Redding, CA (previously No. 3)
9. Sioux City, IA (previously No. 64)
10. Jonesboro, AR (previously No. 8)

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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