Your cell phone is your ticket to savings

Posted by Jodi Harris on May 29th, 2009 at 12:00 am

Unilever is using some new technology to test consumers' willingness to use their mobile phones as a coupon book, according to a Wall Street Journal article.  

In a trial run of the company's new mobile marketing strategy, ShopRite shoppers in Hillsborough, NJ, will be able to redeem digital coupons for products like Breyers ice cream, Dove soap and Lipton tea by having a supermarket cashier scan their cellphones.    

To get the coupons, customers must visit Samplesaint, from which they can transmit the Unilever discount offers to an internet-enabled cellphone. At checkout, the cashier scans the bar code on the phone's screen, redeeming the coupon and deleting it from the phone.      

While the effort is described as a "test-and-learn phase" of an area of growing interest for marketers, there is already skepticism about the viability of this technology. For example, coupons that do not scan correctly would have to be manually entered by cashiers -- a process that could slow down the checkout process in a tight, high-volume retail segment, and add to consumer frustration with long grocery store lines. Experts, such as Andy Murray, chief executive of in-store-marketing agency Saatchi & Saatchi X, also wonder if shoppers will remember to load coupons onto their phones before making grocery runs.

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