Groupon is still at the top of the heap with a North American daily deals market share of more than 50 percent. But there are still lots of smaller industry players who are finding comfortable niches.
Among them: Mom-oriented deals, for example, or deal sties with a specific geography, added to insight about how to grow in a rapidly changing industry.
That's a lot of change -- in perception, and reality. In early 2010, fewer than 18 months after Groupon launched in Chicago, the company was seeing an onslaught of new competitors that were copying its basic business model of selling vouchers for discounted local services.
Groupon co-founder and Chief Executive Andrew Mason didn’t mince words about these rivals, dismissing them as opportunists who wouldn’t make it very far. “A knockoff is a knockoff, whether it’s a Gucci purse, an iPod or a Groupon thing,” Mason told the Tribune in a February 2010 story.
Fast forward to 2012, months from Groupon’s fourth birthday, and hundreds of would-be Groupon challengers have folded or been swallowed by other companies.
Thursday's front page story in the Chicago Tribune looks at some of the lessons these smaller companies have learned as they’ve ridden in Groupon’s wake during the last several years.
Making money in daily deals might not have been the slam dunk it appeared to be back in the heady days of 2008, but there are still untapped opportunities within local e-commerce.
Who'll find the right business model? Whether it’s Groupon or a younger upstart remains to be seen.
-- Wailin Wong
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