Last week the coupon site Groupon announced it plans to raise $750 million to go public--six months after refusing Google's colossal $ 6 billion offer to buy the daily deals site.
Despite chairman's Eric Lefkofsky's claims that the daily couponing site will someday be "wildly profitable," it has racked up operating losses of $540.2 million since its founding in 2008.
I wasn't surprised to read this figure. I believe that this "localized" couponing craze is short-lived and short-sighted...unless it evolves to a one-to-one model where it delivers truly localized offers.
For years, 1to1 Media has discussed the benefits and has cited positive results that come from understanding your customers' needs and preferences, communicating with them when and how they want to be communicated with, and sending personalized and relevant content and offers. Groupon does none of that.
Take today's deal that was sitting in my inbox this morning: a $12 men's hair cut in a town about 45 minutes away from where I live. Yesterday's deal was a slight improvement in terms of purchase potential, but not quite since I have no occasion right now in which to spend $19 for $40 worth of flowers and gifts. And because I don't do tanning beds, nor do I wish to drive more than an hour each day to use them, $79 for 30 days of unlimited tanning in a distant town went straight to my delete folder.
While it was fun at first to receive Groupon's daily emails because they got me to try a couple new restaurants that I otherwise never would have went to, the novelty has worn off. The emails have since grown to become a nuisance and are essentially now spam-like.
If Lefkofsky really intends the site to be "wildly profitable" then he needs to change the model. Why not build a simple registration that allows visitors to indicate whether they are male or female, to allow them to choose their interests, the towns in which they would be inclined to patronize a business, and the frequency in which they would like to receive the emails?
Until that happens, I will continue to delete the daily deals, as I suspect many other people have been doing for quite some time.