Groupon And Its Zillions Of Imitators Are Trying To Cash In On A New Group Buying Craze

Groupon

Chicago-based Web site Groupon launched in 2008, and already an entire industry of imitators has sprung up around the world.

Click here to check out 10 sites offering deals with group coupons >

Groupon partners with restaurants and service providers to offer a major coupon in each city it covers every day, with a catch: The offer is only valid if some minimum number of people sign up for it. This ensures merchants that any deal they offer will generate a high volume of sales, and creates an incentive for consumers to provide free marketing, spreading the word about a deal on social networks to make sure enough people sign up to trigger it. As a result, merchants can offer better deals than they might otherwise.

The service has been a huge hit, selling over 1 million “groupons” in just over a year. Initially operating only in Chicago, Groupon now covers more than 40 cities. The company has raised over $35 million, the latest round coming at a $250 million valuation.

It has also spawned dozens of imitators, operating in cities all over the world. The sites are hugely popular with both consumers and venture capitalists, who have been funding them left and right. Since these sites generally offer one deal per day per market (and no consumer is going to be interested in every deal), there is room for a number of sites to succeed side-by-side.

But it seems almost certain that there are now more Groupon-style sites in major U.S. cities than the market can support long term. Even avid coupon collectors will only check so many sites, or accept so many emails per day. Many of these companies will probably die off within the next few years. It’s also unclear how deal-aggregators like 8coupons and Yipit will affect this competition.

For now, though, deal-hunters have an insane number of sites to choose from.

Click here to check out 10 sites offering deals with group coupons >

Groupon

Site: Groupon
Investors: Eric Lefkofsky, New Enterprise Associates, Accel Partners ($35.8 million)
Area: Over 40 cities in the U.S. and Canada
Sample Deal: $25 for $50 worth of tapas and drinks at Poco Restaurant

Groop Swoop

Site: Groop Swoop
Area: San Fransisco
Sample Deal: $8 For a Speed Friending event by GirlFriendsCircles, worth $15!

Scoop St.

Site: Scoop St.
Investors:
Angels, founders
Area: New York City, for now
Sample Deal: 49% off at the 'Taste of 7th St.' food festival

LivingSocial

Site: LivingSocial
Investors: Steve Case, Grotech Ventures ($10 million)
Area: 9 major U.S. cities
Sample Deal: 52% off good-for-you fare at Organic Grill

SocialBuy

Site: SocialBuy
Area: 8 West Coast cities
Sample Deal: $15 for $30 worth of food and drinks at Reel Inn Restaurant Fresh Fish Market

BuyWithMe

Site: BuyWithMe
Investors: Matrix Partners ($5.5 million)
Area: Boston, San Fransisco, San Diego, and D.C.
Sample Deal: $25 for Aveda massage, facial, or mani/pedi at Tropez Salon and Spa

SwoopOff

Site: SwoopOff
Area: West L.A.
Sample Deal: $36 for 3 Mission Possible training sessions with Jenna Phillips

CityDeal

Site: CityDeal
Investors: eVenture Capital Partners, Holtzbrinck Ventures, Rocket Internet (€4 million)
Area: Germany
Sample Deal: 2 yoga sessions for €25 (€50 value)

My Daily Thread

Site: MyDailyThread
Area: New York, Atlanta, Tampa, and L.A.
Sample Deal: A $28 meal at ParkGrounds for $10

Wowcher

Site: Wowcher
Area: England
Sample Deal: £3 for 2 games of laser tag at Laser Quest

Bonus: Nopuorg

Site: Nopuorg
Area: A parody of the genre ('Groupon' backwards) offering ridiculous deals in 'your area'
Sample Deal: 75% off unlimited trampoline fitness at Gympoline Fitness Studio

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