You know how everything cool eventually gets noticed by The Man and then he tries to use it and be all cool too. But that completely kills any cool left?
If you have used these sites before, they offer a pretty nice premise. A business, usually small and independent, offers some great deal (get $50 of food for $25, bundles of salon services for $50) and if they can get at least 50 people to buy it, then the deal is on. Of course, what these group buying sites have discovered is that people will show up in droves.
Sometimes it has worked well. Personal example: my sister gifted me a salon day that she purchased through Groupon. It was a great experience and we found a cool salon in her area that both of us were pretty happy with.
Sometimes it works less than well: I purchased tickets through Groupon for a mob tour in Vegas. While the tour ended up being fun and interesting, the woman running the admin side of things was so frazzled and overwhelmed by the response that she almost ruined the experience.
Either way, the boon was to indie businesses that needed a hook to break through the advertising noise. Now that businesses like Gap and Amazon are seeing the results, it feels a lot less cool and just like every other marketing opportunity. I’m sure that consumers are just as happy to get $30 worth of Amazon products for $15 as they are to spend $15 for $30 Worth of Fresh Market Fare and Drink at McKinley’s Grille in Pomona. But once again, the giant brand of Amazon has a lot of potential to crowd out little-known McKinley’s Grille.
I can’t fault any of these sites for finding new business. We are all trying to a) make an honest living and b) connect people to really awesome stuff. (I will take 2 seconds to revel in the fact that RelyLocal is always about local businesses here in the Victor Valley… Ok, done gloating.) Still, I do hope that they keep the focus on indie business as much as possible. Amazon and Gap have plenty of marketing budget to survive without continually treading on the little guy.