Groupon seems to have recently arrived at the social enterprise sector. Many SEs have applied for participation in Groupon promotions, and a few have been picked. Results so far have been mixed, in terms of long-term benefit to the social enterprise. And there are folks who would prefer to avoid Groupon, in part because of their Superbowl ads, which ridiculed social change and the nonprofit sector. Fortunately, there are now a few “social” alternatives to Groupon.
Here’s the basic Groupon deal. Your social enterprise can apply, and and if they pick you (typically one sale per day per metro area), they’ll wildly promote a 50% off sale at your business through their extensive online networks. Groupon gets 50% of the revenue, so in effect you’re selling stuff for 25% of your usual retail price. Ouch! but the idea is that it could bring in new customers who will come back and pay full price (sort of a “loss-leader”). From what I’ve heard from participants, mostly that has not been realized. Customers who come for a 50% off discount seldom come back to pay full price.
Here are several social alternatives to Groupon that also offer huge group purchasing discounts:
Roozt, based in Los Angeles, has strict social enterprise criteria for vendor and product selection. To be featured on Roozt, a company needs to demonstrate significant social efforts in at least one category: eco-friendly, ethical, humanitarian, or community conscious.
EthicalDeal is similar to Groupon (similar business model) but exclusively for eco-friendly products & services. They cover about 20 major cities in the US and Canada.
IdealNetwork provides a donation to a charity for every purchase.
BlissMo emphasizes organic, eco-friendly products at deep discounts.