Every generation loves coupons. But are mobile coupons really delivering for this generation?

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If you’re a retailer in this day and age, there’s no doubt that things aren’t quite what they used to be. For starters, the current generation of shoppers - millennials - have far less disposable income than their parents, so much so that they just can’t afford to amass impressive clothing collections like their predecessors may have. Add to that the fact consumerism, in general, is on the decline and the US economy is predicted to slow down, if not enter a recession by 2020, it’s fair to say retailers need to pull out all stops to encourage customers to buy.

In troubling economic times, one sales technique that never fails is the good old rebate. Our love of rebates is definitely intergenerational - 40% of millennial moms won’t shop without a deal!

But for a generation of digitally-savvy, time-poor bargain hunters, is a rebate from a lone retailer really going to be enough? Or do millennials need something bigger and better to persuade them to shop?

Rebates and coupons: why we’ve always loved them

If millennials love coupons, it’s of little wonder why. Since their inception in the late 1800s, we’ve all lapped up a discount at the first sight of it.

Way back in 1887, John Pemberton, a marketer at Coca-Cola, invented what would become the first ever coupon. John brokered an impressive deal with a cohort of local pharmacists: he’d give them Coke syrup, and they’d send out a coupon to their customers with an offer to try Coke for free. John’s sneaky tactic was a phenomenal hit, soon more than one in nine Americans had tried a glass of Coke.

After Coke pioneered the coupon, many companies followed. Less than half a century later, the Nielsen Coupon Clearing House was invented. It was the first company ever to be entirely devoted to coupon redemption.

Innovations in coupons continued for one good reason...they worked! Valpak, the little blue envelope with neighbourhood service coupons, was first created in 1968. By 1997, coupons became popular enough to merit their own month of celebration (September is coupon month, in case you were wondering!). It was also around this time that companies started to use a particularly lucrative type of coupon - the idea of cashback - to reward consumers.

So why exactly have coupons grown so much in popularity? It isn’t only because they drive sales for retailers, according to research from Stuff.co. It’s because they fulfil a number of our needs, including our thrill-seeking need (‘We’re getting such a bargain! We can actually afford it!’) and our ancient hunter-gatherer desires (‘If I look hard enough, I’ll find the best bargain ever!’).

With deep psychological roots like that, it’s no wonder we can’t resist a bargain. Coupons, it seems, are here and here to stay.

The rise and rise of mobile rebates

When most of us think of a coupon, we think of a bite-size piece of paper that we’ll gleefully exchange for some percentage off. But the reality is that most coupons nowadays are redeemed on our mobiles, so much so that the mobile coupon industry is expected to grow by an incredible 56% by 2025.

It’s unsurprising that millennials are redeeming mobile coupons more than any generation before them. They are the generation that engage more with their smartphones than they do with actual humans and, unsurprisingly, shop more on their mobiles than in-store,

So it makes sense that millennials are fuelling the explosion in mobile coupon use. Research shows 93% of millennials use their mobile to search for discounts, and at least 50% use their phones to compare prices between where they are shopping and elsewhere online. And unlike their counterparts in previous generations, millennials favour discounts over brand loyalty - 69% of supposedly brand loyal customers will easily switch brands if they receive a discount notification from a competitor.

Brands have quickly cottoned on to the millennial obsession with coupons and have had to keep innovating to keep them engaged. In fact, the coupon space has not gotten so competitive that customers are often no longer satisfied with just a coupon - they want actual cash back with their purchases.

There’s no doubt that millennials are just as bargain hungry as previous generations, but what sets them apart is that they want - and expect - these coupons or cash back deals to arrive via their mobile.

Coupons...enmasse?

We might have always loved discounts, but we were probably content with just a few. Now? Not so much. Characteristics of the current millennial generation mean they want more than ever.

It’s true that millennials spend time on their phone, but it’s also true that

millennials are the most time-poor generation in history. Millennials are also quite needy. When they want something, they want it all and want it now.

Time on your smartphone, a love of mobile coupons and a desire to have it all creates the perfect conditions for one particular type of app...rebate apps! And indeed, these types of apps have exploded in popularity. Businesses such as BeFrugal, ShopatHome and the hugely popular Ebates continue to see year on year success.

On the surface, rebate apps seem like the shopping nirvana for the millennials - you  can get literally thousands of discounts on everything you have ever wanted, all in one place. But are they really as effective as they seem?

Rebate apps want you to shop. But do they help you to do so?

The point of rebate apps is to claim a rebate. It should be that easy.

It isn’t.

The issue with rebate apps, especially when they’re used on a mobile, is that the app needs to redirect you to tens - if not hundreds or thousands - of retailers sites to actually make your purchase. This means that the rebate app might present you with an exceptional deal, only to have you forget your coupon code by the time you get to checkout.

And even if you do remember it, typing it into an itty-bitty form field is just so damn hard and slow.

But there is a solution. And one that would particularly appeal to time-poor, need-it-now millennials.

It’s called intelligent autofill.

Through partnering with an intelligent autofill provider such as Fillr, rebate apps could enable - in fact - empower customers to make their purchase by ensuring that by the time they reach check out on any site, their information, including personal details and coupon redemption codes, have already been populated, making the checkout process up to 536 times faster.

Rebate apps + good autofill = shopping nirvana

There’s little doubt that rebate apps satisfy this generation’s need to have it fast, have it all, and have it now. Yet today’s digitally-savvy mobile shopper not only wants the discount, but also expects a seamless experience. And they’ll only get that with a good (or let’s be honest, the world’s best) autofill.

So for all the time-poor millennials out there: Rebate apps + autofill = shopping nirvana.


Fillr has developed ‘Autofill as a Service’, the world’s most intelligent and accurate autofill that seamlessly integrates into your app.
Contact us today to find out how our technology can help your customers to transact faster and more effectively across millions of merchants sites, boosting your conversions and revenue. Fillr is powering transactions on the world's top ecommerce and meta search apps, software platforms and phone manufacturers.