What do you do when you have conned all of your customers, exhausted all of your resources, failed at the "confidence" portion of your IPO and have PayPal breathing down your neck? If you're Groupon, you switch tactics completely and try something entirely different. That's what we're seeing this week, as Groupon is testing a new annual fee platform in the Tampa Bay area.
Is this a case of new name, same great taste? See for yourself after the break.
Groupon's new Amazon-esque program, Groupon VIP, gives its customer "first dibs" at new deals, exclusive deals from previous businesses who ran offers and an ability to refund vouchers with just one click. You get all of these features for just $30 a year. Hey, if you can't grab more money from the client, go right to the end user!
Tampa Bay area members will be able to test this program out for three months to see if they would like to keep the service before having to pay the annual fee.
Living Social put out something like this, with their Plus program, back in November, but the important thing here is that Groupon has said it wants to go up against Amazon Prime in terms of value. Prime gets you free two-day shipping as well as Amazon Prime, all for $79 per year. That seems likely to be more valuable than an extra $5 off your $20 tab at a restaurant you may never visit again.
What will the deals be like? A Groupon spokeswoman said,
We might run 40 or 50 deals in a market like Chicago every day, but if we ran a deal a week ago we aren't going to run another offer this week. But we might let them run a deal on VIP.
I guess this is what happens when you hire a new marketing exec just two weeks ago.
How many people will actually sign up for the program? That number will directly determine Groupon's success and potentially its future. Will they save all the "good deals" (I use that term very loosely) for VIP and make the current deals even worse? Let me know what you think.