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SAP Emarsys Research Report: The Rise Of The Mobile Wallet


New challenges continue to emerge for today’s brand marketers as they look to connect with customers and foster lasting relationships. 

For one, customers are more discerning and savvier than ever — their expectations are high, while their patience for generic, clunky shopping experiences is low. On top of that, the explosion of new channels during the past few years requires marketing teams to constantly evolve their strategies and incorporate new touchpoints into their marketing mixes. 

Of the many newer channels increasing in popularity, one in particular stands apart in terms of untapped potential and opportunity: mobile wallet. 

Mobile wallet usage has been steadily increasing in recent years, having now reached and exceeded $55,679 billion in global market value — and that value will continue to grow. But the use case for mobile wallets now extends beyond payment alone. Customers today are finding that mobile wallets are an easy and convenient way to store loyalty cards, organize vouchers, and redeem coupons — particularly in physical retail stores. Brands, in turn, find that mobile wallets offer a new way to reach a wide audience of mobile users, without needing an app. 

SAP Emarsys recently expanded their suite of mobile capabilities with the launch of Mobile Wallet, which enables marketers to engage mobile customers anywhere with 1:1 experiences and unlocks a host of new use cases to enhance their omnichannel marketing strategies. But to get a deeper understanding of the customer perspective, SAP Emarsys conducted consumer research to learn more about how consumers across the globe use mobile wallets. Here’s what we found:

Physical Wallets Are Becoming Obsolete

One of the most significant findings from our mobile wallet research, although not surprising, is the demise of physical wallets, and the increasing embrace of mobile devices and digital wallets. 

On a global level, more than half of consumers polled (51%) say there is no need for them to carry a physical wallet now that they have a mobile wallet. While this response varies slightly on a country-by-country basis, we consistently find large portions of consumers are embracing mobile wallets.

“There is no need for a physical wallet now that I have a mobile wallet.”

Response Global USA UK AUS DE
“Agree” 51% 48% 49% 58% 47%

Research reveals how mobile devices, in general, appear to fill a need that a physical wallet or purse traditionally would — particularly with finances and storing membership cards. Global consumers shared that:

  • 35% use their mobile to make purchases via their mobile wallet
  • 34% use their mobile to find and store discount codes
  • 28% use their mobile to store loyalty cards

Mobile Makes It Easier to Spend and Save

Today’s consumers are all about ease and convenience when it comes to shopping — and mobile technology helps reduce the friction that would make it difficult for them to spend money… or save money. 

When asked how technology has impacted their finances, consumers said the following:

“I can better monitor my spending and savings.” 

Response Global USA UK AUS DE
“Agree” 43% 49% 32% 49% 35%

“It’s easier to compare costs before buying.”

Response Global USA UK AUS DE
“Agree” 42% 45% 32% 53% 36%

“It’s easier to find the cheapest deal.”

Response Global USA UK AUS DE
“Agree” 41% 45% 31% 48% 39%

We also found that an increasing portion of consumers prefer digital coupons and vouchers over paper versions. When asked why, consumers said the following:

“I can clearly see the amount of money I’ll save when using digital discount codes / coupons / vouchers.” 

Response Global USA UK AUS DE
“Agree” 43% 48% 31% 47% 39%

“Digital discount codes / coupons / vouchers are more convenient than the paper versions.” 

Response Global USA UK AUS DE
“Agree” 42% 48% 31% 44% 37%

“It’s easier to keep digital discount codes / coupons / vouchers organized.” 

Response Global USA UK AUS DE
“Agree” 32% 40% 24% 31% 27%

It is interesting to note that, when compared with the global average, a larger portion of Americans and Australians find that technology and digital discounts, coupons, and vouchers help them spend and save, whereas consumers in the UK and Germany were slightly less inclined to find the benefit.

Getting Comfy with Digital Incentives and Loyalty Cards

Increasing repeat purchases and customer lifetime value is a high priority for today’s brands. In fact, it’s critical for driving growth and revenue. One of the ways that brands can achieve this is through valuable incentives and reward cards that entice customers to return and shop. 

What’s the best way to deliver incentives and reward cards? According to research, consumers are getting more and more comfortable with the idea of receiving digital incentives or digital loyalty cards to accrue rewards. 

“Would you be comfortable using digital coupons/vouchers?”

Response Global USA UK AUS DE
“Yes” 72% 76% 65% 78% 65%
“No” 7% 5% 8% 6% 9%

“Would you be comfortable using digital loyalty cards?”

Response Global USA UK AUS DE
“Yes” 69% 76% 70% 78% 61%
“No” 8% 5% 6% 6% 10%

Across the board, customers are quite comfortable with digital coupons and vouchers, as well as digital loyalty cards. 

Interestingly, the data also suggests that for brands that can deliver digital loyalty cards, their customers are much more inclined to use them. That’s because consumers are considerably more likely to have their mobile device with them than they are a physical loyalty card.

According to our research, 47% of global consumers said they always carry their mobile phone on them, whereas only 16% said they always carry physical loyalty cards with them. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that today’s retailers will send digital coupons and vouchers that can be stored in a customer’s mobile wallet and easily used in-store at the point of sale. This not only allows those retailers to stay connected with customers, but also drives in-store engagement. 

Mobile Wallet Loyalty Programs Benefit Customers

Customer loyalty is top of mind for so many retailers right now, particularly as consumers are feeling the pressure of economic uncertainty and must be more selective about which brands they shop with. Mobile wallets have proven to be quite useful for retailers as they seek ways to keep members of their loyalty programs more engaged, and also make their shopping experiences more frictionless. 

Here’s what customers had to say about using mobile wallet-based loyalty programs. 

“When purchasing, how often do you use mobile wallet-based loyalty programs?” 

Response Global USA UK AUS DE
“Often” 37% 35% 33% 40% 44%

When asked what are the main reasons consumers purchase items using a mobile wallet-based loyalty program, they said the following:

Response Global USA UK AUS DE
Easier to organize 46% 48% 40% 49% 37%
Quicker than paper versions 45% 49% 39% 44% 40%
Savings are more visible 49% 43% 35% 35% 39%

These results suggest that a notable portion of consumers not only embrace mobile wallet-based loyalty programs, but they derive a great benefit from using them.

What About Apps?

As retailers seek ways to engage customers with personalized digital experiences, mobile marketing channels are perhaps the most vital. Mobile wallet as a marketing channel is becoming increasingly popular for brands because it doesn’t require the consumer to download a separate app from the brand. 

However, many retailers still look to mobile apps as a primary way to engage mobile users, so we surveyed consumers to see how they feel about using apps to stay connected to the brands they love. Here’s what consumers told us:

“Apps are the best way for retailers to engage me.” 

Response Global USA UK AUS DE
“Agree” 21% 26% 14% 20% 18%

“I have uninstalled an app shortly after installing it.” 

Response Global USA UK AUS DE
“Agree” 28% 31% 25% 35% 16%

“I dislike having too many apps on my phone.” 

Response Global USA UK AUS DE
“Agree” 25% 25% 22% 30% 20%

“I dislike the hassle of having to look at multiple apps to get deals / save money” 

Response Global USA UK AUS DE
“Agree” 21% 23% 17% 20% 19%

Although apps still have a place in a retailer’s omnichannel marketing strategy, the research suggests only about one-fifth (21%) of global consumers on average feel that apps are the best way for retailers to reach them. Additionally, a small but notable portion of consumers also find apps to be a hassle when it comes to getting deals or saving money. These findings suggest that apps can serve the needs of some customers, but retailers should be wary that some customers will be app-averse. 

What This Research Means for Marketers

Marketers face an ever-evolving set of challenges when it comes to connecting with customers and nurturing long-term relationships with them. Achieving these goals requires a specific formula of delivering the right message to the right customer at the right time, and — quite critically — on the right channel. 

While some may argue that the emergence of new digital channels in recent years has made this formula more difficult to nail down, the most successful marketers actually feel liberated by the new channels — after all, more channels means more opportunities to build relationships with customers. The key, however, is to understand how consumers feel about these channels, how consumers engage through these channels, and how to best integrate those channels into the marketing mix. 

The findings from our research into mobile wallets — how they’re perceived and used by consumers — reveals a great deal of insight. Namely, that consumers view their mobile devices, and mobile wallets in particular, as a convenient and easy way to manage loyalty cards, vouchers, and coupons, especially when shopping in physical stores. At the same time, marketers recognize that these channels offer a valuable new way to connect with their customers and increase customer loyalty

The launch of SAP Emarsys’s Mobile Wallet channel empowers marketers to reach customers anywhere with relevant rewards and offers without needing an app, remove the friction of in-store identification, and close the loop on the digital to in-store experience. Using SAP Emarsys, marketers can natively launch personalized marketing campaigns with mobile wallet passes such as digital vouchers, coupons, tickets, and loyalty cards. As a result, customers can have the highly personalized, frictionless experiences they crave, while the business gets better data and customer insights to improve their marketing strategy and drive results.

This SAP Emarsys Mobile Wallet Research Report is based on a survey of 10,081 general respondents across Australia, Germany, UK and USA between May 17 – 22, 2023. The survey was conducted by Opinion Matters, which abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society, based on the ESOMAR principles.

Special thanks to our friends at Emarsys for their insights on this topic.
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