This column is going to quickly highlight three major points:
Groupon-Style Couponing Is Exploding
No one can deny the brilliance of Groupon's concept, and its success has blossomed into a huge valuation with unprecedented speed. And why not? Think of the proposition to the advertisers and the consumer. The advertiser gets to acquire customers in trade for product and get some money in the process, and the consumer gets goods at a huge discount.
So now what has happened? A new revenue model has been created and validated and dozens of copycats are jumping in. And it's not just startups like LivingSocial and BuyWithMe. There are major media organizations with astronomically huge user bases, existing media platforms, and deep pockets. Here are a few sites being launched by well-established companies:
Entercom Communications: http://myperks.us
The New York Times: http://timeslimited.nytimes.com
So for some of these players, deals can be combined with print, online display, and even radio.
Consumers' Appetites for Deals Aren't Limited to Groupon
The good news here is that consumers have unlimited appetites for deals. While many might restrict their deal consumption to a single player, the reality is there is plenty of room in this space. Unlike social networks that require time and therefore require some level of loyalty, I believe consumers don't care if Groupon, Facebook, or OpenTable is offering the deal - they just want the deal.
There is a downside that needs to be acknowledged. The premise is that the businesses that utilize Groupon may take a loss on the first sale but they build a base of new customers. The reality (as many have noted quite vocally) is a whole generation of what I call "Deal-Only Consumers" is emerging. Plenty of twenty-somethings I know only eat out and buy certain services via Groupon and other sites. But nonetheless, this is a huge new platform with gobs of potential!
Social Couponing Isn't Just for Restaurants, Retail, and Local Services
So now, we media buyers have a very interesting new media platform that we can take advantage of. The challenge is we need to get our heads around the new opportunities and learn how to manage doing huge national social couponing and deal media buys for different types of products. The cool thing is once we get our heads around the opportunities for this platform, there are some amazing self-funding things we can do.
Groupon for Hamburger Helper
Consider this example to get your creative gears turning. On April 21 of this year, General Mills posted its first deal offer on Groupon. (See below.) This clearly shows social couponing is not just for retail, restaurants, and services.
General Mills ran a $20 deal in Minneapolis and San Francisco and sold 5,000 variety samplers and a coupon book worth $40. The sampler packs included Reese's Puffs, Kix, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal; a package of Hamburger Helper, Fiber One chewy bars, and a Wanchai Ferry dinner kit. They sold out in just over 10 hours and had the kits sent directly to purchasers of the deal!
So while the current view is that these sites are mainly for retail, restaurants, and salons, I see it as a great new engagement channel that can create self-funding, experiential, high-touch promotions for brands and packaged goods alike! And with major media companies entering the fray, these promotions can be blended with search, online display, print, and radio in a single one-stop shop!
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As founder and CEO of Overdrive, Harry Gold is the architect and conductor behind the company's ROI-driven programs. His primary mission is to create innovative marketing programs based on real-world success and to ensure the marketing and technology practices that drive those successes are continually institutionalized into the culture and methods of the agency. What excites him is the knowledge that Overdrive's collaborative environment has created a company of online media, SEM, and online behavioral experts who drive success for the clients and companies they serve. Overdrive serves a diverse base of B2B and B2C clients that demand a high level of accountability and ROI from their online programs and campaigns.
Harry started his career in 1995 when he founded online marketing firm Interactive Promotions, serving such clients as Microsoft, "The Financial Times," the Hard Rock Cafe, and the City of Boston. Since then, he has been at the forefront of online branding and channel creation, developing successful Web and search engine-based marketing programs for various agencies and Fortune 500 companies.
Harry is a frequent lecturer on SEM and online media for The New England Direct Marketing Association; Ad Club; the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Harvard University; and Boston University.