3 Hong Kong, the mobile communications division of Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong Holdings, announced a partnership with Japan’s NTT Docomo that will provide 3 Hong Kong’s data-roaming customers with free electronic coupons (or e-coupons) that can be redeemed with merchants in Japan, plus travel information. The e-coupons entitle roaming customers to discounts of up to 40 percent at popular tax-free shops and department stores, as well as restaurants and beauty salons. Data-roaming customers using the 3Roam Data Plan or Data Roaming Daily Pass will receive an SMS from 3 Hong Kong containing special merchant offers and practical travel information after commencing data-roaming service over NTT Docomo’s mobile network in Japan. By following instructions, customers can download the complimentary e-coupons from a website linked to the SMS. They will get the discounts simply by presenting e-coupons when shopping.
We like this promotion, which is distinctive and very well tailored to today’s rapidly developing e-commerce marketplace. As we have reported previously, roaming charges are relatively unpopular among mobile customers; in Europe, anti-roaming sentiment reached the point at which regulatory action was taken to put an end to the fees entirely. Even in regions such as Asia where roaming charges continue, it is a good idea to incentivize consumers to use roaming services despite the excess charges. The e-coupons being offered through 3 Hong Kong and NTT Docomo accomplish this goal by giving customers some value back in exchange for spending on data roaming charges. Since more and more consumers are using their mobile devices—and mobile data, of course—to help them make purchases, and many people are more likely to make substantial purchases while on trips, e-coupons are a particularly appropriate kind of incentive for data roaming. Customers on the move may also use the roaming data to search the internet and decide which participating merchants they want to patronize, thus driving extra revenue to the operators.
This kind of promotion could be taken to the next stage by expanding the e-coupons to include purchases made directly over mobile devices rather than just in-person transactions. That could significantly increase the volume of data usage among roaming customers.