Friday, July 9, 2010

Mobile's Coming Of Age? For The Hundredth Time, Yes

A recent article on the WashPost website does a great job describing the proliferation of mobile coupons, along with their benefits to consumer and retailers.

Mobile coupons, as our mobile clients have been touting for years, have a threefold advantage over their paper forebears:

1. They provide convenience and ease of use to consumers,
2. Allow consumers and retailers to engage in a dialogue with one another, and
3. Let retailers collect valuable tracking data about their loyal customers and their spending habits.

All of these are highlighted in Ariana Eunjung Cha’s piece "Mobile coupons help retailers track customers," though of course no article of this kind would be complete without a veiled hint of menace (“the convenience…comes at a price: your privacy”).

But it’s the cautionary aspects of this column that are a little bit misplaced.

Now, we’re not complete pollyannas about the mobile marketing movement, nor are we deaf to the intimations of big brotherhood that inevitably accompany the accumulation of vast amounts of tailored, individualized data by large corporations.

But in terms of mobile couponing, there seems to be a very clear-cut trade off that consumers are willingly engaging in. This is NOT an invasion of privacy, but rather accepting an invitation to trade personal privacy for preferential treatment, and even that in a very circumscribed manner. Now Facebook, that is a whole nother story...

What is important to remember here is that the current generation has been willingly ceding aspects of their (our) privacy for more than a decade. When every travail is documented on Facebook, why balk at allowing purchasing behavior to steer discounts your way?

The truth is, very few balk at this. This is the choice generation, we (and they) want our offers to be relevant, tailored just to us, and we want the ability to seize them or let the pass as we see fit.

And this is the beauty of the mobile coupon, an aspect only briefly mentioned in the Washington Post article: the mobile coupon is an ‘opt-in’ offer. There must be an affirmative decision made on the part of the recipient to receive one. This means that if you don’t sign up for a mobile coupon, it’s just like the other coupons in the Sunday paper you never bought; they exist, but they don’t affect you.

Many would rather have access to the discounts mobile coupons provide. And so mobile coupons have persisted, and will continue to grow in popularity.

But of course, if you read this blog, you knew that already.

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