Discount Seekers Increasingly Rely on Mobile

The gap between paper and mobile coupons is closing

Author: Krista Garcia

October 11, 2018

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.