Groupon.com had a controversial commercial during yesterday’s Super Bowl, a riff on a public service announcement about Tibet.
I’ll leave it up to you as to whether Groupon was edgy or went over the line.
Now I want to talk about JoS. A. Bank. Until I started to write this post, I didn’t know if JAB was local, regional or national. A quick search shows it to be a national clothing chain.
That means some of you will have heard its continual radio and TV commercials about the “HUGE [fill in the blank] SALE: ANY THREE SUITS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!!!!”
Is it any secret that the “price” isn’t the “price?” Would anyone in their right mind go to JAB and buy a suit on a day there wasn’t a HUGE SALE? Not that I think there ever is such a day. It isn't half off if it's the price every day.
JAB is a cheap clothing discounter. I’ve never been in one of its stores; but, I’m betting that everything it sells is last year’s line, seconds and/or inferior quality lines. It’s the loud version of Wal-Mart. Buy huge quantities of cheap stuff and sell it at a low margin to a lot of people. There’s a market for this.
Groupon and Scoutmob and their cousins have come of age in a recession. Retailers, restaurants, gyms and so on are desperate to draw in customers. I get an Email from Half Off Depot each day, offering really good prices on what seem to be pretty marginal businesses.
Should I assume that these offers represent the true value of the products and services and make sure I never pay the “normal price?” Should I assume that a point in time, Groupon, et al. will run out of desperate businesses and fade away? Are Groupon type companies creating an unsustainable model of consumer choice – go from coupon offer to coupon offer, never returning to a business that reverts to regular prices?
Any of these scenarios aren’t good for online coupon companies or their clients. Then too, Groupon turned down a $6 billion offer from Google and is being valued at $15 billion for a planned IPO; so, what do I know?