“The average consumer subscribes to 3.5 daily deal sites these days. The brand loyalty is not there,” Robert Boniface, COO of iCoupon Online, said today in a panel at BIA/Kelsey’s Deals 3D Daily Deals and Group Buying conference. He and other panelists see that as a good thing.
“I don’t think Groupon is a bubble, I don’t think it’s hype,” said Loren Bendele, CEO of Savings.com. “But other types of deal concepts are still important to major and national merchants and we’re a great source of distributing those.” Savings.com created a deal feed “almost like a Facebook news feed,” allowing users to follow categories, brands, merchants or other people. Savings.com works “really hard” to find those “deal pros,” people who are good at finding deals–like Stephanie Nelson, the Coupon Mom–and Bendele compared them to “elite Yelpers.”
“When you get a 50 percent-off coupon now, you’re not surprised anymore,” said Boniface. “Now you’re looking for your favorite restaurant.” 82 percent of iCoupon Online subscribers also subscribe to LivingSocial or Groupon, so iCoupon chose to focus more closely on consumer experience and service. That means making sites easy to use and deals easy to sift through, a sentiment echoed by Bendele and, earlier in the day, Yipit cofounder Jim Moran. Customers are now looking to “pull” as opposed to “push,” Moran said, and Bendele agreed that “more people want to come to your site on their own time, when they want.” He doesn’t see e-mail as being a “main channel” for deals in the future.
The question, said YourBestDeals.com CEO David Goldfarb, is “how far can we reach out and have more blogs and aggregators and syndicators and partners, and how can we expand in those arenas?”
“Groupon doesn’t like to talk with companies like you on the panel,” said Peter Kravilovsky, the moderator and BIA/Kelsey VP. “You may have been wondering why Groupon isn’t [at the conference]. Groupon is not boycotting the show, but they’re pretty much uncomfortable talking about having guys like you talk about how you’re going to be big players in this space.”