Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Should I offer 10%-off to read this?

          Amazon has announced that they will be offering coupons, to cash in on the demand that Groupon seems to have tapped into. The program is called Amazon Local, and its first market will be Chicago, Groupon's home base.

          Inevitable, I suppose. In our introductory course in Entrepreneurship, we talk about the value of having an "unfair advantage". Something that your competitor can't easily copy; expertise, a patent, and so on.

          I don't believe Groupon has an unfair advantage. They believe the style their offers are written in has an advantage. They say they have a distinctive humorous style. Groupon claims they choose their offer-writers on this basis, and say they have editors to protect this style.

          It's great that Groupon hires writers. It's hard to get writing jobs these days. But what's so funny about a coupon for a hike? And I've never found white-water rafting to be particularly hilarious. Hey, whatever tickles you.

          We Americans do love coupons. About 67% of all families use them. They've never gone out of style, regardless of what JC Penney says.

           Advertisers know there are two kinds of people who read the Sunday newspapers. The people who throw away all the coupon sections first, and the people who read them first. That's why advertisers know they have to reach both, and use both coupon ads and regular brand-building ads.

          The Internet is also big on coupons. I can't imagine opening my email and not getting coupons to try a new product or to stick with an old one.

          Groupon has put a little fun into coupons. So have Living Social and Restaurants.com and the others. They have "rules", which makes a little game out of it. Amazon is big and trustworthy, and they'll have clout in bringing us some hefty offers.

          And you must admit, two hours of whale-watching is a hefty offer.


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