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12.03.2010

Guest Post: Group Buying Fatigue

Today's Guest Post is from Jill Levenson of Flourish Marketing.  You can also find Jill on Twitter @jill5455.  Thanks Jill!

Suffering from group-buying fatigue?
A curated approach may be the cure.
Shopping Frenzy!
Photo by John Crosley 
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of clipping e-coupons. I get enough emails, tweets and Facebook posts each day from various vendors of “exclusive” deals to choke a goat. The offers are for all kinds of things from GAP jeans to discounted dinner at the hot restaurant of the week.

But it can be a lot of work staying on top of all those promos and glorified coupons! Remembering to purchase this one within 24 hours to get the deal or to show the special screen on my iPhone before paying the bill requires some special attention to detail. And for those of us who pinch our pennies while still leading a slightly beyond-our-means aspirational lifestyle, it can border on obsession.

The Top 5 Group-Buying Services:
1.    GroupOn
2.    EverSave
3.    Living Social 
4.    BuyWithMe 
5.    Tippr 

To boot, AOL has plans to put WOW.com to use as their group-buying platform and go-to restaurant reservation desk OpenTable has plans to get into group-buying offers as well. Group-buying is bringing in sales by the billion, but I have to wonder whether it’s really adding value to the consumer experience.

Just today, for example, I went to my AM appointment at Stability Pilates here in Sandy Springs. Of course, only as I walked in did I remember that the previous morning, I had an email offer from Stability via Living Social. It came in buried amidst 30 or so other (slightly more vital) messages.  Because I didn’t buy that day, I lost the opportunity to get 4 classes for $26 — a substantial savings — from my very own Stability Pilates. I can’t help but feel a little bitter that I, a loyal client, missed out. Where’s the love?

Despite my issues with how the “you snooze, you lose” approach can burn a loyal customer base, I’ll admit Stability made a strong move. I have info from an inside source who says they sold almost 400 units through the one day offer. That’s big bucks and a lot of new clients for a small business like Stability.

But here’s the real rub for group-buying consumers, according to Kevin Ryan of Advertising Age: What I find particularly fascinating about the burgeoning social buying space is that people actually think they are getting a good deal—rather than unwanted inventory—or a simple margin thinning volume moving sale. But that's the magic of marketing, isn't it? Take the rubes for as much as you can, as often as you can. (Complete article)

I’m sure you have at least one sale sweater. One that, at the time, you didn’t know you always needed. But now it sits in your closet unused and you don’t even know why you bought it. I think it’s that same impulse that’s propelling the group-buying phenomenon.

Like Kevin Ryan, I believe “social buying isn't about bargain shopping, it's about connected audience enabling.” Hence, instead of these (forgive my expression) bullshit “exclusive get it while it lasts” daily e-blasts that are, in fact, not exclusive at all, I prefer what I like to call “curated” group-buying.

There are a few “group-on” like missives I receive that manage to rise above this fray of frenzied couponing. These communications prove that, done right, group-buying can actually elevate the consumer experience and thereby enhance the value of a brand’s goods or services.

Back to Ryan: true exclusivity comes from the ability to successfully connect with and enable your target audience. In order to connect, it has to be relevant to my interests, and to enable me to purchase it has to be accessible - whether local or not. In several cases, it’s a blend of editorial and marketing some call advertorial that resonates well. 

Here are two that I think do this well: the Atlanta-based Scoutmob and HauteLook.  Swirl by Daily Candy is brand new, but promises great things - especially if they can figure out how to go local.  

And there are a few more that, while technically not into group-buying (yet!), belong in a well-curated Inbox: UrbanDaddy and Thrillist.  At the moment, these are more like super secret hints about the "next big thing," and both have Atlanta editions.

I know there are more that I’ve missed, so feel free to clue me in! My cup of group-buying offers runneth over already. Another two or two thousand couldn’t hurt.



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