You might have signed up for daily deal services Groupon and/or LivingSocial because someone you know — one time — got a fantastic deal on something, and you were hoping to also hit the coupon jackpot. But it's been several months and the sites' daily blasts are yielding nothing but horribly written emails with talking cartoon cats, promising you deals for "Cajun fare" at restaurants you'd never eat at and chemical hair removal procedures you still can't afford with the discount.
You are on the verge of giving up, deciding that Amazon.com deal was a fluke, when an email arrives that changes everything: that great deal that happened to your friend, that one time, is happening to you. That's what happened today, for me at least, over at LivingSocial, which offered a 50 percent off coupon for buzzed-about rustic European restaurant Feast (reviewed here by Ian McNulty).
Up until recently, the competing services were almost indistinguishable from each other. Both Groupon and LivingSocial offer daily deals, most of them for local businesses, which are announced via email and are available to purchase for 24 hours. After buying a deal, both sites allow you to earn credits or free deals by referring friends via email, Twitter or Facebook. Consumers benefit by scoring discounts on a variety of goods and services — deals have been for everything from cupcakes to maid companies — and businesses benefit from the influx of customers.
Groupon initially was the more popular of the two sites, but LivingSocial's traffic skyrocketed after it offered a $20 voucher for Amazon.com for $10 in January of this year (the e-commerce site invested in LivingSocial a month before that). Then Groupon offered the same deal for Barnes & Nobles a month later — a tacit message to LivingSocial that it. Is. On.
But besides those two big deals, it's been mostly days of "Cajun fare," weird services you'll never use (flight instruction?), chain restaurants and pedicures galore on both services. So the deal for Feast — a local restaurant that's getting positive reviews and isn't too new to recognize, or old enough to enter backlash territory — puts LivingSocial back on top, at least in this local market, and tells Groupon it's time to step it up.
Plus, something tells me that Groupon's stock is down nationally, too. There was that whole incident with Groupon's Tibet commercial during the Super Bowl and also, can we talk about this cat that appears on all their emails? I don't see how this guy is helping anyone.
Gambiteers: do you guys use either or both of these services? Which one is better?