Discount Seekers Increasingly Rely on Mobile

The gap between paper and mobile coupons is closing

Everyone knows shoppers love discounts, but how do they find them and which channels do they prefer?

According to a RetailMeNot survey conducted by Forrester Consulting in June 2018, two-thirds of US digital shoppers look for discounts before they begin shopping. This behavior was strongest for categories such as travel (74%), clothing (73%) and electronics (70%). 

Smartphones were the preferred device to search for coupons among digital shoppers ages 18 to 49 (45%), with a slight edge over searching on desktop/laptop (41%). The majority of those ages 50 or older turned to desktops (60%) and this group used smartphones (18%) and tablets (19%) in nearly equal measures. 

Overall, mobile has grown in popularity for finding discounts. In 2014, just 10% used a savings app while that figure is now 38%, a 28% increase. 

By our estimates, roughly half of US adults will use a mobile coupon this year, a 9.7% increase over 2017. This figure will grow to 57.5% by 2022 with continued higher adoption rates for internet users (64.6%).

The gap between paper and mobile coupons is closing, according to a June 2018 survey by CodeBroker. A majority preferred print (53%) but mobile wasn't far behind (47%). However, close to one-third (31%) printed out mobile coupons. Among the 69% who stored mobile coupons on their phones, most (57%) saved a text message link to access them while 28% saved them in a mobile app. Just 15% saved coupons to a mobile wallet. 

Coupon-seeking behavior differs for online shopping vs. brick-and-mortar, though. When asked to choose the top three sources for coupons by RetailMeNot, mobile savings apps were used by 18% for online purchases vs. 11% for in-store. Online shoppers disproportionately favored retail websites and apps and search engines while in-store shoppers relied on in-store ads and newspaper circulars far more often.

The power of an in-store ad can't be underestimated. While 23% of internet users surveyed by CodeBroker were most likely to respond to a coupon offer in an online ad, 57% were motivated by signage in a physical store. 

A majority (52%) of digital shoppers also wouldn't mind a text message with discounts or offers while shopping in store, per RetailMeNot.