Will 2010 Be the Year of the Mobile Coupon?

Mobile marketing, and in particular, the mobile coupon, is about to hit its stride. In 2009, we saw large corporations test out mobile marketing campaigns to raise awareness of their brand and products, often giving away discounts and free products to tempt consumers into opting-in to their campaigns.

Looking back at 2009, we can predict how much of an impact mobile marketing will have in 2010. This year, many major players turned to mobile coupons for promotion in test markets, signaling that 2010 is ripe for mobile marketing and mobile coupons to take off.

Starbucks buzzed in on the trend in September, testing out a mobile barcode “virtual giftcard” app in Silicon Valley and Seattle. JCPenney turned to Cellfire’s mobile barcode coupons, also in September, in a trial at 16 JCPenney locations in the Houston area. This month, Wendy’s is running a mobile promotion campaign with Options Media Group Holdings in the Northeast US, exchanging coupons if customers opt in to their campaign. Also this month, 7-Eleven is running an opt-in mobile barcode coupon campaign in a San Diego-area test offering free drinks.

These are just a few of many test campaigns run in 2009, and while the jury is still out on if any of them proved successful enough to merit follow-up campaigns, the growth of mobile and smart phones particularly will likely fuel the mobile marketing sector. While mobile handset sales have been on the decline throughout most of 2009, Justin reported last month that analysts predict strong Q4 sales. With Google’s Android just starting to infiltrate the market, giving non-AT&T customers iPhone comparable devices, sales of mobile barcode-friendly smartphones will rise in 2010, which will all factor into making the start of the new decade the year of the mobile coupon.