January 31, 2013 update: Yesterday LivingSocial, Groupon’s main competitor, announced a 2012 $650 million loss.
This post has brewing inside me for a couple of months now. I think it started when I heard that Groupon had turned down a $6 billion buyout offer from Google. I couldn’t see how these guys could turn down $6 billion. Maybe they had other ideas for company – a grand vision to jump-start humanity and right the world’s wrongs. I doubt it. Were not talking about Twitter or Facebook, here. Groupon is a damn coupon company.
Now here’s why I hate Groupon.
1. Groupon is all about consumption. “We want you to buy and buy now.” It doesn’t make a difference what it is … just get out there and buy it. This model is just so archaic that in a time where conservation and sustainability, not endless consumption, should be in the front of our minds – Groupon is about the just the opposite. There’s even a Groupon Now mobile app to reminds us we’re hungry and bored. Where will it end?
2. Not only is Groupon about consumption, they don’t care what they fling at you. They are non-discriminatory carnival barkers. In a world of the Long Tail and focused marketing, where we expect not to be bombarded but by irrelevant advertising – Groupon’s all about it. I’m fifty-two years old and I don’t want to marketed diapers. Been there and done that. My data is flying all over the place – grab some of it and tell me about things that might matter to me. I have to manage enough information as it is … don’t spam me.
3. Groupon is a one night stand for businesses. Now I know I shouldn’t feel sorry for the lemmings out there masquerading as business owners – but I kind of do. How can you not be mesmerized by the all attention and media fawning Groupon’s been getting. “If I don’t jump on I’ll miss the a chance to be part of the “second coming.” If a merchant is lucky, a Groupon promotion will bring in a surge of traffic. The business better be ready to handle this influx. If they’re not, not only will they not get repeat business – they’ll get negative word of mouth.
And speaking of repeat business. Will all these new customers want to come back if they’re not getting 50% off? Hard to say. And what sort of future communication will there be with these customers. If the merchant doesn’t a have a follow-up loyalty program in place, there won’t be any. Groupon doesn’t offer one. Maybe these are a couple of reasons, according to several independent reports – as much as 40% of businesses that use Groupon once, don’t use it again. I’m sure there’s conflicting reports otherwise, depending on who you talked to – but having it even surface as much as it has, raises concerns.
4. And finally, the last reason (at least for the purpose of this piece) really isn’t Groupon’s fault, but I have to say it anyway. I’m so over hearing about next “great thing,” “the killer app,” and company that will change our lives once and for all and lead us into enlightenment. Why isn’t it that we can’t all just like, well … what we each want to like. Why is it that we have to always be alerted of the next “crusade to the cliff.” I haven’t grown a tail and a pointy nose and my eyesight’s fine (at least with my glasses). Groupon is a coupon company. It may wear a pretty dress and a nice pair of shoes … but it’s still a coupon company.
If I could click my heals and wake up in my “Perfect World” … it world be a world where we reward giving, not consuming … and the businesses I patronize understand that. It would be where we could enjoy our journey with less, not more … where conservation and conversation are the priority, not an afterthought.
I love Twitter and what it’s meant to the world and specifically to me. I’m not a big fan of Facebook – but I can’t help but give it kudos for being part solution to the healing of some of the earth’s ills. And it’s bad enough we have Foursquare. But at least I can see some potential in it. But Groupon.
Oh, gotta go, just got an offer for half off on a tanning session. Wonder how much time I have left?
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Update: March 23, 2011 (5:00 pm)
It seems since I wrote this post – there’s been a lot of Groupon news. It’s not good. Seems like I’m not the only one that feels as I do. According to TechCrunch Groupon’s revenue in February 2011 fell 30% to $62 million And if that wasn’t enough, their President and COO,. Rob Solomon, has decided to part ways with the company. Hmmm!