November 18 2009, 10:39 AM
Groupon.com has taken an interesting approach to delivering discounts to consumers, and, refreshingly, it seems mutually beneficial. They call it "collective buying power," and I've checked it out for the past week to see how it works. Groupon first contacts local businesses to secure great bargains. Since signing up for the daily e-newsletter, I've received offers for 80 percent off an OccasionalCar membership, half-off smoothies at Rush, 73 percent off memberships at Qi Athletic Clubs & Spin-Yoga Studios, and 43 percent off tickets to a dinner and murder-mystery show. They obtain such discounts by promising to deliver a certain amount of customers. With each Groupon deal, you'll notice a chart tracking how many people need to commit to the offer before it's unlocked. Typically, meeting the goal isn't very difficult. Just 15 people were needed to pledge money for the OccasionalCar membership, and just 20 needed to sign up for the murder-mystery dinner (820 people ended up buying tickets to the show). Bonus: Each deal has a "discussion" option for questions. Not only are Groupon employees on hand, but during a recent thread on the murder-mystery dinner, the executive producer popped up in the comments section, helping users make their reservations.