MONEY

Target Texts Bargains to Shoppers’ Phones

My mother is certifiably coupon crazy. It’s not unusual for her to emerge from the grocery store having paid only a few bucks for a few bags of food.

To the detriment of my checking account, however, this is not a gene I inherited. Not that I don’t love saving money. I just know that even if I diligently sat down with the Sunday circulars and a pair of scissors, I’d neglect to bring the coupons with me when I actually went to the store.

But perhaps there’s hope for me yet: Target recently launched a program in which it will issue coupons directly to consumers’ smartphones.

After you opt in — you can enroll online, via the mobile site m.target.com, or by texting “COUPONS” to 827438 — you’ll get a text message once a month linking to exclusive deals on the store’s mobile page. A few examples from this month: $1 off Kraft cheese, $1 off some Planters food products and $3 off certain Glade air fresheners, reports a spokesperson for the retailer.

Getting the deal is akin to checking in for a flight using your phone — the coupons include a bar code that can be scanned at checkout. Target is the first national chain to offer coupons that can be processed in this way, though other mobile couponing companies have previously offered deals to those who showed their phone, gave a promo code, or downloaded discounts to a grocery loyalty card. (Among the other players: Cellfire, 8coupons, even Valpak, the company that normally snail-mails its coupons for local businesses.)

But Target’s entrance is likely to be a game-changer, according to mobile industry analyst Greg Sterling of Sterling Market Intelligence. “This could move the mobile couponing phenomenon to mainstream,” he says. “I liken it to the way in which American Idol taught people to text.”

Bring it on retailers! These are the kind of coupons that even I could learn to use. (Aren’t you proud, mom?)

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