New York's Daily Deal Sites Branch Out

Groupon’s runaway success leveraging collective buying power using the internet has inspired knockoffs across the globe. Daily deal sites are

Groupon’s runaway success leveraging collective buying power using the internet has inspired knockoffs across the globe. Daily deal sites are one of the easiest businesses to build — it’s basically a website, email list and an old-fashioned sales force.

There are now more daily deal sites than even the thriftiest users want to keep up with. As the number of companies doing the same thing grows, the Groupon formula — 50 to 70 percent off a product or service only after a minimum number of customers sign up, with extra incentives to recruit your friends — no longer seems to be enough. The average customer is less impressed by fire-sale prices, the first symptom of daily deal fatigue.

The heightened attention on group buying and proliferation of companies is why daily deal aggregators like New York’s Yipit have been able to gain traction. Now other companies leveraging group buying are thinking of ways to differentiate themselves.

Thrillist, also based in New York, recently launched Thrillist Rewards, a variation on the Groupon formula. Thrillist Rewards is a weekly email with local deals targeted to men in New York, with more cities on the way. The deals don’t need to be “tipped” — they’re available immediately — and they’re often more than just a box of boozy cookies. Thrillist Rewards also serves up deals that could be whole man dates, like $50 for admission, a cocktail, steak and lapdance at strip club Scores and its in-house “breastaurant,” or a gift certificate to the D.I.Y. workshops at 3rd Ward bundled with free admission to a weekly Wednesday Drink-n-Draw (all-you-can-drink beers and nude model).

The Groupon-esque daily deal site Scoop St., also recently launched a new offering: “Experiences,” born out of the success of food and pub crawls like the Taste of 7th St. during the company’s first few months.

“Every few weeks, we’ll choose a new spot in Manhattan and Brooklyn where members from Scoop St. can get together and meet one another over the best of New York. Together with our daily offers, Experiences serve as the New Yorker’s local guide to secret events, adventures and new discoveries in their area,” cofounder David Ambrose wrote in an email.

The first “Experiences” experience took place last Wednesday at Shake Shack on the Upper East Side, where members were treated to free burgers and shakes.

“Experiences introduces a new way for members and merchants to interact with one another in a very communal manner. In fact, the model of Experiences is based on my co-founder’s (Justin Tsang) first foray into group buying in China, specifically ‘tuangou,'” Mr. Ambrose said. “Essentially, Chinese consumers would meet and organize together in BBS (online bulletin board services) and forums to set a time/place ‘offline’ in the real world – assembling together as a flashmob to haggle en-masse. We’re excited to bring this to reality here in New York.”

If free Shake Shack is any indication, it seems like the daily deal war is working out pretty well for consumers.

ajeffries [at] | @adrjeffries New York's Daily Deal Sites Branch Out