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Sears, Loehmann's, Rubio's using mobile coupons to drive consumers in-store

Big brands such as Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill, Sears, California Pizza Kitchen and Loehmann's are leveraging location-based mobile-coupon network Yowza.

The Yowza platform allows consumers to simply show the digital mobile coupon on their iPhone or iPod touch at the time of payment to redeem the discount on their purchase.

?At Yowza we?re trying to get great brands up in the very, very new [mobile coupon] market,? said Greg Grunberg, cofounder of Yowza, Hollywood, CA. ?We saw a tremendous explosion in this market.?

Yowza is a location-based mobile coupon network for the iPhone and iPod touch. The company was founded by Mr. Grunberg, an actor from such programs as Heroes and Felicity, August Trometer and Rick Yaeger. The three of them met on Twitter.

Rubio?s is the latest brand to hop on the Yowza network. Mr. Grunberg recently held a meet-up with fans and Yowza users at a local Rubio?s to promote the new coupon application. Mr. Grunberg said using the mobile social aspect was a great way to get word out mobile social aspect.

Companies that use Yowza are able to check how each individual promotion is doing.

?Rubio?s thought we were a perfect fit, we [understood] the kind of lifestyle attached to the brand,? Mr. Grunberg said. ?They got it right away and started pitching their existing offers and creating unique offers [strictly for Yowza].?

Retailers pay a nominal fee ? per location ? to list their offers with Yowza.

?But the fee is so low per location that it is the most cost effective marketing tool for any business both big and small, Mr. Grunberg said. ?All are welcome on Yowza.?

Mr. Grunberg and his fellow cofounders are doing the talk show circuit as well as leveraging social networking sites like Twitter to get the word out about their new application. Yowza will be featured in several media outlets including television programs and sporting events.

?[Restaurants and stores] don?t have any idea when they print out flyers, or place ads in papers, they have no idea who is going to see it, how many people will cut it out and have that coupon,? Mr. Grunberg said. ?What Yowza really addressses is all of those issues.?

Yowza users can opt-in to have offers pushed to their phone or because the application is location-based, just consult the application to see what stores have offers around them.

?They?ll always have coupons with them all the time,? Mr. Grunberg said. ?A company like Rubio?s knows our demographic, younger demos spend money they want to spend money and are actively seeking deals.?

Coupons are really big right now, especially with the economic slowdown.

?All businesses are struggling, people aren?t reading their mail or looking at coupons in the newspaper,? Mr. Trometer said. ?People are more Internet than print-based and that hurts companies. [Yowza] markets to the same people but is more cost effective.?

Coupons are very important to consumers. They are also a great way to reduce the use of paper and are better for the environment.

?I think it?s because it?s a badge of honor,? Mr. Grunberg said. ?There?s no shame in saving money right now. I think everybody wants to. To save money like grandma did with a book of coupons clipped from the Sunday paper is too much work. Right now it?s about convenience.

?[Yowza puts] hundreds if not thousands of coupons in hand all the time,? he said.