July 11, 2011

The New Age of Coupon Crazies Slowly Expands to Kosher

New York…There was a time when Jewish women controlled their shopping options and the family budget by clipping newspaper coupons for the “specials” that appeared, especially on Wednesdays. But the ‘90’s were not coupon friendly and a far more affluent consumer was not relying on the coupon to control the family budget. Fast forward to today’s on-line craze. It seems like everyone and their mother in law are trying to cash in on the online group coupon phenomenon these days. Spurred on by the initial success of Groupon, the three-year-old start up that refused a reported $6 billion buyout by Google, the coupon business now boasts hundreds of small companies catering to niche and location oriented markets. While the services of Groupon and similar sites have been debated, with some lauding them as god-sent and others trivializing their effectiveness, they are, without a doubt, popular amongst consumers.

So, it comes as no surprise that Google and Amazon are attempting to cash in on this lucrative market. Google, mainly motivated by profits but perhaps by a twinge of revenge as well, has unleashed its Groupon-like division called “Google Offers.” Currently operating in Portland, Oregon, and set to begin offering deals in New York City, San Francisco and other areas in the near future, Google Offers is a natural extension of Google’s current advertising services. One can imagine that Google will use repertoire of engineers and sales staff to enhance and reinvent group-deal advertisements the way it did with its other targeted advertising services.

Amazon, already the largest online seller of tangible goods, has also decided to foray into the Groupon market. Calling its service “Amazon Local,” Amazon currently operates in only one city, Boise, Idaho, with hopes to expand into other urban markets in the future. Like Google, which holds the Gmail addresses of millions of potential consumers, Amazon has contact information for tens of millions of its own costumers, who it will likely entice to sign up for its Amazon Local offers. The battle between these three giants, the current leader Groupon, and the heavily financed Google offers and Amazon Local will be most interesting. How will vying for consumers and vendors effect each company? Was it smart for Groupon to reject Google’s initial buyout offer? And, ultimately, how will this increased competition benefit the consumer?

Of course, one should never forget the little guys, or medium sized and niche market guys for that matter, either. All those Woots, Groupola, and Living Social’s are still thriving despite Groupon’s dominance in the coupon market. Indeed, on a much smaller scale in the Kosher food and Jewish lifestyle market, sites like KosherKouponz and Jdeal have captured a significant market portion, growing tenfold in consumer outreach in just a matter of months. Despite the three potential giants and other medium sized sites mentioned above, those coupon sites that serve niche markets, such as Jdeal and KosherKouponz, are likely to continue growing unabated by the larger competition until they reach their maximal market share.