Why discounting is going to increase over the next ten years.

Discounting is not new.  Discounting or “couponing” as it is/was more commonly referred to in other industries has been going on for decades.  Who hasn’t clipped a coupon out of a Sunday paper or a magazine and brought it into a store to save that additional fifty cents or 10% off?

But more importantly, who hasn’t walked up to the cash register at that Grocery Store or Duane Reade and found out they FORGOT a coupon that they were supposed to bring?

There goes that fifty cents.

Unless, of course, it’s a digital coupon.

And unless, of course, you’re carrying a machine in your pocket that can pull up that coupon in about 15 seconds, so you can show it to the 17-year-old cashier before the guy behind you with the anger management issues pops his melon.

Paper couponing is going out just like . . . well . . . papers.  Coupons and discount codes have been going online over the last five years, and will only continue to do so over the next five.

But what is really going to increase the USE of those digital coupons at cash registers and box offices all over the country is the increase in consumers using smartphones, which have the ability to search for and e-clip those coupons WHILE you’re actually purchasing your product.

In March, Nielsen reported that 49.7% of US mobile subscribers now owned smartphones, which was a whopping 38% (!) increase from the previous year.  More than 2/3 of the folks buying phones in the previous three months were buying smartphones.  Additionally, smartphones have an even deeper penetration in the younger market (tomorrow’s audience).

And if you think this smartphone adoption is going to decrease over the next five years, well, you probably still think Facebook is a fad.

What all these smartphones mean is more people waiting in line for tickets to X show, googling, “X show discount” and getting cheaper tickets . . . no coupon necessary.  It’s already happening . . . and it’s going to happen more.


The web gives the world access to information with a couple of keystrokes.  It empowers us.  And it empowers the consumer.  And as we create products (smartphones, faster and freer Internet networks) that allow them to gain access to the web wherever they are, the consumer’s power only increases.

Which means we’re going to have to deal with it.

Discounting isn’t going away.  It’s becoming more prevalent.  But don’t be depressed.   We just have to accept it, and do one of two things:

  • Create a product so unbelievably demanded by the public that they won’t care what they pay (see Book of Mormon)
  • Create new pricing/discounting strategies that allow the customer to use this new found power, while protecting our revenue streams.

If we don’t, then the only phones we’ll be using in ten years will be DumbPhones.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.