How Businesses Fare with Daily Deals: A Multi-Site Analysis of Groupon, Livingsocial, Opentable, Travelzoo, and BuyWithMe Promotions

31 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2011  

Utpal M. Dholakia

Rice University - Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business

Date Written: June 13, 2011

Abstract

We examine performance of daily deals run through five major sites in 23 US markets. In a survey-based study of 324 businesses that conducted a daily deal promotion between August 2009 and March 2011, 55.5% of businesses reported making money, 26.6% lost money and 17.9% broke even on their promotions. Although close to 80% of deal users were new customers, significantly fewer users spent beyond the deal’s value or returned to purchase at full price. 48.1% of businesses indicated they would run another daily deal promotion, 19.8% said they would not, and 32.1% said they were uncertain. We also examined drivers of deal profitability, the loyalty of merchants to a daily deal site, and how spending on daily deals has affected spending of businesses on other marketing programs. Overall, our findings lead us to conclude that there are relatively few points of differentiation between the daily deal sites, making it harder for any one site to stand out from the others. Our findings also uncovered a number of red flags regarding the industry as a whole: (1) the relatively low percentages of deal users spending beyond the deal value (35.9%) and returning for a full-price purchase (19.9%) are symptomatic of a structural weakness in the daily deal business model, (2) less than half of the businesses indicated enthusiasm about running another daily deal in the future, (3) fully 72.8% indicated openness to considering a different daily deal site, and (4) only 35.9% of restaurants/ bars and 41.5% of salons and spas that had run a daily deal asserted they would run another such promotion in the future. All of these findings point to the same conclusion: Over the next few years, it is likely that daily deal sites will have to settle for lower shares of revenues from businesses compared to their current levels, and it will be harder and more expensive for them to find viable candidates to fill their pipelines of daily deals.

Suggested Citation

Dholakia, Utpal M., How Businesses Fare with Daily Deals: A Multi-Site Analysis of Groupon, Livingsocial, Opentable, Travelzoo, and BuyWithMe Promotions (June 13, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1863466 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1863466

Utpal M. Dholakia (Contact Author)

Rice University - Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business ( email )

6100 South Main Street
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77005-1892
United States

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