Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Oh Groupon!

It is being reported by Yahoo! that Groupon CEO Andrew Mason is about to get canned by his own company.

Getting fired sucks. I can't imagine what it would be like to be fired by a company that I founded. If the reports end up being true, it certainly wouldn't be the first time this happened, and it certainly won't be the last time it happens.

However, if it hasn't been made clear by anyone who has a clue about the 'daily deals' industry, their time is over - at least how the industry is currently structured.

Do a quick Google search on the experience that companies have had when they utilize these deals. Sure, it may be great for a particular business or a one time, small deal but most businesses have had a negative experience.

Even when I had my own business, there was a short time where I was hounded on a daily basis by Groupon, LivingSocial and the others, to sign up and have a deal. However, I had done my homework and there was zero upside and it would have been nothing but a money loser for me. I think most businesses have experienced that and I was smart enough to apply those lessons to my business.

Speaking of LivingSocial, when was the last time you saw a commercial for them? It used to be every commercial break (sometimes more than once a break) on nearly every channel. I think now, it has been six months or more since I last saw their commercials aired.

That being said, I see only two ways forward with this particular industry. First, if there is going to be a national model, there can only be one or two companies - and they can't take 50 percent of the revenue from the merchant right off the top (after the discount is applied). They must take a smaller cut from the merchants to even have a chance of getting some of those companies back.

Otherwise, it's going to just be some local model that is run by a local business. I've primarily seen local newspapers and TV stations getting in on this business. They likely do this because they are able to take a smaller cut of the revenue from the merchant because it includes something along the lines of advertising - so it's more of a win/win for the media company and the merchant.

I'm sure the 'daily deals' industry isn't going anywhere, but unless the firms such as Groupon and LivingSocial change, folks like Mr. Mason are not going to find themselves in the industry much longer.

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