Well aren’t group-buying sites like Groupon and Living Social the greatest things these days? This time last year, I was flipping through (and flipping through again) my Entertainment Book, seeing the same-old restaurants, wishing there was something I could use after, of course, using the Tropika coupon.
Group-buying sites have been big winners because of the magical (synergistic?) combination of addiction-creating features. They are “social” by requiring a minimum number of buyers to activate, and then with all the Web 2.0 add-ons to share your sweet purchase on Facebook and Twitter. Although you can regularly anticipate at least one deal per website per day, you never know who is offering the next deal and you return each day or get excited looking through your Twitter feed in the morning–this is a similar mechanism to the addictive quality of e-mail, that it comes in random intervals and you’re on your toes for the next hit of excitement, news to land on your doorstep. Finally, have you noticed that the deals are primarily for “luxury goods”, mostly services and dining? These greater-than-50%-off deals tantalize the average Internet user with the idea of being part of that Beautiful Crowd that wines, dines, spas, and practices (yoga).
What I have purchased on Groupon and Living Social so far:
- $19 2-week membership to Fitness World… which I got convinced to turned into a 16-month membership
- $10 for $20 of food at 8-1/2… perfect for my new brunching habit
- $49 for $100 of gear at Larry’s Sports… a Christmas gift for NPY
- 2-for-1 entry to the Vancouver Christmas Market… which unfortunately we never got around to using
- $15 for $30 of food at De Dutch… another economical brunch coming up!
- $7 for $14 gets you 1/2 dozen cupcakes from Kreation Artisan Bakery… a little treat, and supporting a (new?) business in my area
I like to think that I’m quite practical approaching what could be an expensive and spiraling shopping habit. I don’t buy food deals over $10 (oops, make that $15). I don’t buy a deal where I don’t think I’ll get around to getting a table, like the Bin 942 one. No spas, hair/nails treatment–I don’t use them to start with so it’s only a resource if it came a point I needed a manicure or facial… and when will that be? I also make a point of checking the discussion section for each Groupon deal where a lot of people are asking the same questions that come to my mind and the vendor and/or Groupon rep is answering questions all day, even when the questions get repetitive.
It doesn’t hurt at all that Groupon and Living Social are at the forefront with iPhone (and other smartphone) apps for not just daily browsing, but also making transactions paperless. Also, within the apps it’s really easy to check out Toronto’s deals–for some reason I like to keep tabs on that city.