"The promise, or at least the implied promise, behind digital is that it is more convenient than paper and the way in which this convenience is delivered becomes a service," said Bhappu, also a research fellow in the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing, which funded the project.
It was the service aspect that troubled users the most. Therefore, as services stand, the format is not yet "up to par," the team noted.
"While the promotional aspect of the coupon was just as important, the consumers were dissatisfied with the experience related to service," Bhappu said.
Project collaborators included Jennifer Andrews, Charles Lawry and Zeinou Toure all graduate students in retailing and consumer sciences. Also, UA alumna Mireya Gomez conducted a historical study of coupons for her honors thesis prior to graduating.
Gomez, a UA Honors College student who earned her degree in May in retailing and consumer sciences, determined that about 3 billion paper coupons are issued in the U.S. annually but only 1 to 2 percent are redeemed.
"Personally, I am not sure that coupons as we know them will continue in their paper format," Bhappu said. "The word 'coupon' no longer implies something that you have to cut out."
But, she noted, the future of digital couponing appears strongly linked to the future of digital payment and m-commerce, or mobile commerce.
Wireless phone carriers and credit card issuers are working with software companies to offer what Bhappu said is a "digital wallet" for consumers to store their credit card information, along with digital coupons, on their smart phones.
Consumers would be able to pay for purchases simply by tapping their smart phones on a point-of-sale payment device, which would also recognize and redeem their stored digital coupons.
Bhappu and her students are preparing a research paper of their findings, with Andrews having already presented one paper o
|Contact: La Monica Everett-Haynes|
University of Arizona