GBS does not usually comment on specific deals. One good reason for this is that for some time, there haven't been any particularly interesting ones.
One of the worst features of the daily deals landscape has been the homogenisation of a formulaic selection of - mostly national - deals on offer (memory stick, anyone? Shamballa bracelet..? How about a nice aluminium wallet?)
This wasn't always the case. In the early days, a series of deals, mostly from Groupon, caused our blood to run hot with the promise of what daily deals were capable of. £12 for £30 to spend at the Body Shop was one that sticks in the memory... halcyon days!
Not for a while though, so it was notable over the last week - ending today - to see an eye-catching and platinum-selling deal on the books of Mighty Deals.
The deal offered £20 of petrol for £10, with a Shell loyalty card. Getting punters signed up to the loyalty scheme (Drivers Club) is itself a value proposition for both merchant and customer, and since Shell have allowed the deal to run for a week, racking up around 35,000 sales, you can assume Mighty Deals have hit on a genuine, clever win-win offer here.
We hope this heralds a new phase of 'super-deals' to give the industry a needed lift (and moral-boost, given some of the glum faces we've encountered recently).
Well done Mighty Deals.
This week, major UK bank Barclays made a surprise move into the daily deals space, launching bespoke offers.
GBS expresses surprise not only because we'd heard no prior rumblings about this, but also because the mood around the industry has been relatively downbeat for the last six to 12 months, with more major brands calling it a day than joining the party (e.g Nectar daily deals). Still - we're pleased that some still see gold in these hills.
We have discerned no significant differentiating factor to Barclays' offering, and find the promise that Bespoke Offers presents an 'antidote to daily deal fatigue' (attributed to marketing director Stuart Beamish) slightly bemusing.
Beamish refers to the 'scattergun' approach of daily deals, claiming that Bespoke Offers will stand out with a truly personalised selection.
We fear this angle may be some months or years behind the curve (which major daily deals site hasn't focussed on greater personalisation in the last year, and made a song and dance while doing so?)
We do also wonder whether a highstreet bank carries quite the right associations when it comes to attracting the public to spend (and they are not hiding their provenance)... though doubtless they are extremely well placed to carry out smooth operations on the merchant side.
But enough premature nay-saying, we welcome bespoke offers into the market and wish them well.
We received our dear John letter from Nectar Daily Deals on Thursday this week. Nectar regretted to inform us that they were bowing out of the daily deals game no-one ever really noticed they were playing.... though interestingly attributing the decision to their ghost deal-sourcer:
"Unfortunately the company we have been working with to provide these deals is discontinuing their deal sourcing operations in the UK. So for now, we are unable to offer any new daily deals."
Nectar was clearly only ever a rider of the daily deal bandwagon, and it's no surprise to see their toe coming back out of the water.
In an attempt to stick to what's newsworthy in UK daily deals, we think we'll stop reporting each exit from the market from now on. It's a real case of 'easy come, easy go' at the moment.
GBS is at the bullish end of the spectrum with regard to the future of the group buying sector (in the UK and elsewhere).
We’ve mentioned before that we tend to feel there’s currently a great deal of hyberbolic and reactionary comment, predicting imminent catastrophe, which simply doesn’t tally with our observations or with the historical comparisons we would draw: with the voucher code sector for example.
Regardless of your stance on this, one indisputable case of prosperity in the turbulent waters of group buying is GoGroopie.
GoGroopie were by no means the first in the game, but came aboard in 2011 with care and forethought. They had a clear brand, and a slightly new approach, dispensing altogether with the pretence of ‘limited-time-offer’ being a real feature of the ‘daily’ deal. Instead, they allowed their bank of deals to grow, creating an experience more like a discount store than an ultra-slow conveyor belt.
GoGroopie and its founder – Jon Mackey, formerly of JP Morgan – have been rewarded for carving their own path, continuing to grow strongly while some of the bigger players notoriously experience a very different trajectory.
Now they have taken a great leap forward, purchasing their mid-sized competitor Lyncmeup.
With new daily deal players, large and small, still emerging frequently, we are reluctant to say that the sector is yet – in net terms – consolidating. Moves like this though should clarify and mature the scene in the next 18 months or so.
Gogroopie may have just ensured that when the dust clears, they will be standing among the stronger contenders.
For every doom and gloom merchant calling time on the daily deals industry, there's another big player throwing his hat into the ring.
Speaking of rings, the latest major move is from Telco King Vodafone, who are quietly launching Vodafone Select.
The author received an unobstrusive text message on his Vodafone phone on 28th January, with the following:
"Welcome to Vodafone Select, our way of sending you the latest offers and info from brands we think you'll love. To receive tailored offers, let us know more about you - read the info at m.vodafone.co.uk/select, then tell us what interests you by choosing from the following , it's free:
3 Health & Beauty
Yours truly duly obliged, and received:
"Thank you, that's all for now. You'll soon start receiving offers..."
Search for Vodafone Select (does the name ring any bells?...) and you'll see that it's still (1st Feb) pretty low profile. No fanfare. Interesting.
On the face of it, Vodafone are sensationally well placed to push daily deals, with a monster subscriber base from the off and an immediate, almost zero-cost communication platform in place.
We have seen before that that's no guarantee of success (Facebook deals). However, we suspect that Vodafone won't be going out to strike their own deals but taking the lower-commitment approach of using a third party/parties for this. We await to see...
It's a sad goodbye to daily deals aggregator site Pinggers, who bow out of the market with a thoughtful statement on their still-live blog.
"Unfortunately such a vast market, with so many competitors and so many new players constantly popping up has some disadvantages. User acquisition costs rocketed to the ionosphere and we faced the tough decision of either going round after round after round of investment or to move on and leverage all the amazing things we learned to develop new incredible ideas."
For Pingerrs' full farewell statement, see their final blog post.
GBS actually had a soft spot for Pinggers. Unlike many sites in the space, it looked fresh, it brought something new (ingenious presentation of deal location data) and made a good effort to present deals to users without 'getting in the way'.
Let the remaining players take heed. Good isn't necessarily good enough.