AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction


How to effectively distribute coupons digitally to consumers who may exercise them remains an enduring, yet important, issue to address. In this study, we seek to answer two questions. First, would the dissemination of product discount coupons through mobile technology, such as the mobile phone network via the short-message-service (SMS), yield different effects on consumers, compared to a more traditional communication technology such as e-mail? Second, does the source, that is, the merchant or referral from peers, matter to a consumer? We build on the theoretical lens of cognitive effort (technology) and social capital (source) to theorize and empirically validate the conjectures through a real-world field experiment spanning four weeks. In terms of technology, the results indicate no significant difference in terms of the usage rate of coupons between the two technological means through which the coupons were disseminated. However, in terms of the source, we observed a higher propensity of using coupons received from a peer as compared to coupons received from a merchant. Furthermore, the forwarding rate of the discount coupons was significantly higher via e-mail as compared to SMS. Implications for research and practice are discussed.