Sunday, April 3, 2011

Life According to Groupon: The Hungry/Bored Dichotomy

In my last blog, “Fair Weather (Business) Friends,” I talked about the controversy surrounding the Groupon Superbowl commercial.  When doing research for the blog, I came across a new concept for Groupon that sounds pretty interesting.  According to Groupon, people can either be hungry, or bored.

This month Groupon is launching a new phone application, Groupon Now, that gives people two choices: “I’m Hungry” or “I’m Bored.”  Depending on what you choose, it directs you to a nearby deal that fulfills the need of your choice.  Leave it to Groupon to narrow the vast array of human needs and emotions down to just two.  At first, I’m a little thrown off.  Bored? Hungry? My life boils down to a two need state dichotomy? 

Actually, the more I think about it, those two phrases are a little spot...  “I’m Hungry” obviously covers food and “I’m Bored” takes care of just about everything else.  Man I feel like such a waste of space.  Damn you Groupon!

With this new phone app, Groupon does what many other phone apps like Yelp and Places now do by showing you what is around your location.  The upper hand Groupon has on this is not only will it show you what is around, but also give you a sweet deal on it.

After writing my previous blog and learning a little bit about the Groupon CEO, Andrew Mason, the app has me a little skeptical.  The whole hungry/bored thing feels a little too “drink the Koolaide” to me.  This is Mason’s own way of describing the app:

“For merchants, the daily deal is like teeth whitening, and Groupon Now is like brushing your teeth. It can be an everyday thing to keep your business going.”

OK I see where you’re going with this but if there is anything I’ve learned from my years of collecting coupons and deals, there is always a catch.  Based on my personal experiences, the only time food coupons are good for are on a Monday or Tuesday at 2 p.m.  This isn’t exactly when the restaurant is hopping.

In order for merchants to want to participate with Groupon, they have to look at where they are in need the most and make that need more desirable.  With the increased acceptance of this phone app, it may alter the way people see going out to eat.  After a longer period of time, it may even alter when and what we eat. 

Personally, I don’t like where this is going.  Customers are going to start to feel entitled to discounts that simply don’t exist.  I’m going to try it out for a week and see what happens.  Hopefully, I wont go broke getting hundreds of deals on Thai food.

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