I’ve said quite a few positive things about Groupon the past two years…
Following its entry into the KC market, business owners I interviewed spoke highly of it. Said the people who buy Groupons – half off coupons usually – are upscale, bring friends, spend money, tip well and become repeat customers.
And with hundreds of thousands of locals on Groupon’s email list, it’s also good advertising, businesses say.
With rare exception, members of the comments crowd totally disagreed.
Giving stuff away for half price devalues the product, they say. Pisses off people who pay full price. It’s just bad business.
Well, if it’s so bad, how come everybody in the free world is doing it?
There are so many Groupon wannabes of late, it’s getting hard to keep them straight. There’s Muncharoo (queerest name since KanRocksas, although they got there first). Living Social, CrowdSavings, DailyDeals and many more.
And most recently, the Kansas City Star’s DealSaver.com.
While it’s unlikely the Star will be the last one to the half-price party, clearly it came late.
As evidenced by a check of its DealSaver’s "past deals" page.
There we find – even with the newspaper pimping daily DealSavers on its front page and in giant print ads – a lengthy list of failed giveaways.
Let’s take a look.
With millions of readers each week, only 16 deals sold for Jaskki’s Tobacco Cafe. Four for Girlfriends The Salon and just 51 for the well-established Joe’s Pizza in Westport. Sixteen for RSVP Medspa. One for Patty Rymer, Esthetician. Celsius DermaSpa sold four. Draft Horse Clothing, 13. Gina’s Sew Crazy, 12. Lumbrite Teeth Whitening, 25.
And check this, Imagery in Werstport sold just 13. And that’s a very cool store.
And the KC Freedom Fest – complete with coverage from the news/entertainment side of the Star – sold just 15 half off three day passes.
If that sounds bad, Melissa Blayton sold only just $75 for $225 makeup and hairstyling services deal and Skin Solutions sold ZERO laser hair removal sessions.
Even totally hip, Mission boutique Lulu’s has justy two deals sold with under a day to play.
It’s not all quite that bleak…
Adams Chrysler Dodge Jeep sold just forty-six $39 oil changes and tire rotations ($89 value).
And there are some success stories, albeit few.
Stroud‘s sold out 1,000, $10 to get $20 deals. The Peanut sold 777 similarly. Cascone’s sold 525, $10 for $20s. And Waldo Pizza – a neighborhood institution – sold out 1,500, $8 gets you $16 deals.
A Star deal I’m watching and kinda recommending – Kansas City’s Ghosts & Gangsters Tour – has only 37 deals sold at this writing. It offers an introductory ghost hunt for half off at $20 and a three hour ghost hunt at half off for $30.
"Each ticket purchased per person includes training on how to use the same equipment you see on all of the paranormal investigative TV shows, as well as plenty of time trying to capture your evidence," the pitch reads. "All photographs and audio recording files will then be delivered to your house so you can continue your quest by reviewing the evidence at your leisure.
"You will be exploring The Chambers of Edgar Allen Poe Commercial Haunted Attraction. This place is really HAUNTED. It was proven to be so by TV’s Ghost Lab seen on the Discovery Channel!"
With Halloween approaching, what’s not to like about that deal?
Here’s the bottom line….
The novelty of the Groupon "experience" appears to be fading. Clever dealmakers like Muncharoo make it harder to guage their track records than the Star, but it appears that the market is starting to soften. That the novelty is beginning to fade.
Even Groupon has deals up that show only 28 and 10 bought (with 22 hours remaining).
Are Groupon and it’s many immitators destined to become the online junk mail of the near future?
That is the question!