Three times in the last three weeks, I’ve written about a new group-buying service that claims to be “like Groupon for ______” (insert niche market here).
- There’s jdeal, which targets Jewish consumers in New York and signed up 5,000 members in just six weeks.
- Newer still is the Big Gay Deal of the Day, which offers gym memberships, underwear and other goodies to a gay male clientele.
- And then there’s Office Arrow, with discounts of up to 90% on supplies and services for small business.
Groupon would probably dismiss such efforts as derivative, but the proliferation of these buying services proves once again the central truth of our consumer culture:
Groupon is the darling of Silicon Valley because its potential scale appears to be limitless. But that strength is also a weakness: By seeking to appeal to everyone, giants like Groupon miss the chance to tailor their offerings in ways that might appeal to narrow — but intensely loyal — target markets.
Does the world really need a 50% discount on “Boy Butter” personal lubricant? That’s up to the market to decide. The point is, so long as big companies try to be all things to all people, smaller companies will thrive by adapting the grand vision to a smaller niche. Venture capitalists may turn up their nose, but the strategy is a sound one for lifestyle entrepreneurs who aren’t looking for a $100 million exit.
And here’s the kicker: Because marketing is about telling stories, you have a built-in advantage when you piggyback on a well-known success story like Groupon or Amazon or whatever. Don’t believe it? Search Google News for “jdeal,” and notice all their free publicity. If you’re not getting that kind of love from the media, it’s enough to make you say “Oy!”