BANGALORE: Mobile couponing is a "boon" for FMCG brands in India and is growing fast, a leading industry figure has said.

Sandeep Goyal, a former chairman of Dentsu India who has now set up a new business, Mogae Media, focused on this area, told the Economic Times that mobile couponing was the most cost-effective and time-efficient way for brands to reach consumers without spending heavily on advertising.

He argued that telecoms operators had a wealth of information on consumers – where they lived and worked, the sort of handset they owned, which acted as an indicator of affluence, while average revenue per user was a "surrogate for spending" – all of which could be used to target consumers.

He claimed that his own creation, MoCoupons, which he described as "an end-to-end couponing ecosystem", had already signed up 1,500 grocers in Delhi, a number he expected to rise to include 5,000 grocers, general merchants and above-the-counter pharmacies by the end of the year.

"In 2014, we're aiming for a base of 30,000 grocers in 20 cities," he said.

He cited two recent examples of how these coupons work from the fast food and banking sectors. In the first instance, a pizza brand sent out coupons in a particular business district of Gurgaon in the pre-lunch period offering a free dessert with every pizza. In the second, a bank's credit card users received discounts of between 10% and 20% at participating outlets in a Mumbai mall.

"But the big impact will come once we have a large enough base of grocers so that FMCG companies can run promotions on everyday products," said Goyal. "For instance, offering Rs 10 off on toothpaste or Rs 20 off on ketchup."

He added that smartphones were not necessary for this development. "Mobile coupons can be sent as an SMS or USSD (text message based interactive system) with an alphanumeric code that merchants can authenticate," he explained.

A recent report noted a widespread use of online coupons in India and suggested this was driving the growth of online retailing. Couponation, an online shopping portal, said 85% of Indian online shoppers used coupons to take advantage of discounts.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff