The Future of Group Buying?


Group Buying is all the rage lately.

It’s like Geolocation 8 months ago, but even more popular because it is able to live between web, email & social properties. However, every time I turn around, there is another group buying service popping up. Usually there is some nuance to distinguish it, but usually nothing of true note to the consumer.

However, sitting back and watching what’s been happening in my local area deal wise has got me thinking and trying to figure out what the future is for these group buying services…

I think group buying will eventually segment itself out according to the primary interests of their audiences and demographics. You’ll go to one service for beauty services & the like, one for travel, one for food discounts, etc. and this segmentation will primarily occur in heavily populated urban/suburban areas.

I also think that this will become ever more useful for the consumers, though there may be significant drop off as result on a per service basis. It means that as a consumer, I will have the power to pick & choose what are useful deals to me and allow businesses to more effectively target their user base. It will become a scenario of quality over quantity.

Now if this doesn’t happen on a per service basis as I predicted, the other segmentation alternative is that it will happen within the service itself. I already see something like this happening within LivingSocial. I receive a special email about once every two weeks or so (unsure of the actual cadence) that lists travel deals from all over the country. Since I love to travel, this is a much more valuable email to me than the daily emails I get with deals I never take advantage of. It allows me as the user to control my experience and on the web, that is sometimes overlooked in favor of far, but shallow reach.

Then after that, I’m sure some form of aggregators will step in and do their work to find the best deals across multiple group buying channels. But so is the way of the web.

So, what do you think? Do you see this happening in group buying? Are there trends I’m missing?

I’m also very curious to see if any associations have taken on group buying as a recruitment tactic. If not, why not? If so, what compelled you to try it? What were your results?


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30 Responses to “The Future of Group Buying?”

  1. I totally read this as “Group Bullying” and was intrigued by this new concept I’d never heard of! Glad I was wrong–group bullying doesn’t sound fun!

    My problem with group buying is that it leads to impulse buying, which I’m against on principal…because I’m horrible about it! While there are good deals to be had, people as a whole are already so bad about overspending and sticking to a budget–daily deals are just another way to keep the masses in credit card debt, IMHO. You don’t actually need it, but it’s SUCH A GREAT DEAL and it’s only for one day…and hey, if you can get three more people to buy it too it will be free!

    But I digress….bet you didn’t know I was a closet finance-a-holic. 😉

    I admit I still have a bad taste in my mouth over the deal I bought over the summer–paintball for 2. My son was all excited about paintball and I figured, hey, it’s a great deal, why not? But it turns out, only after I’d purchased it did I realize it was only valid at the location an hour and a half away, as opposed to the location 10 minutes from my house. My bad, but a bad that has soured me on deals.

    Another thing that has soured me on them is the other time I did one where if you used your Visa card you were supposed to get one free…I never did get the free one and, of course, never felt like taking the time to follow up on it.

    That said, I think there is some allure to an “if we reach X registrations for this the price drops $50 for each of you” kind of idea for associations, or some similar thing with a product. The caveat, though, is that you want to make sure you’re not losing money on the deal and also make sure to use the opportunity to make sure your product/service is so great you earn return customers…which, after all, is the main point of group buying.

  2. I am also curious about Corporate Barter. I just read up on it, and it seems like something associations could do for its members while earning some non-dues revenue. It wouldn’t fit for everyone, but would work for some trade associations.

  3. Maggie – Have you read about Posie’s cafe? They are soured on group buying from the business perspective. Here’s the link if you haven’t read about it:

    I think this discussion is also timely considering LivingSocial amassed 1,301,296 buys yesterday in the $10 for a $20 Amazon Giftcard deal. That deal was ALL OVER the web, everywhere I turned someone was talking about it.

    I also know of a few theatres in Baltimore using it for tickets and/or subscriptions, especially if they are small, it’s a great way to get more exposure for an event or theatre.

    I’m also obsessed with the LivingSocial Escapes. My least favorite part of travel is paying for the hotel (not sure why), so these allow me to discover cool places to stay for a really cheap price. However, their blackout dates are sometimes too much.

    Matt – I’m interested in hearing more about Corporate Barter. Can you give me an example of how it would work in the association world?

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