The Groupon hangover is setting in, and providers and retailers alike are looking for a Bloody Mary.
Would you buy a $5-for-$10-at-Lioni-Italian-Heroes coupon from this man? Groupon CEO Andrew Mason wants to know.
A year ago, the calculus of a daily deal seemed simple: A merchant partners with a provider, offers a discount to a large opt-in audience, and then watches its customer base explode. Groupon, unquestionably the alpha of the pack (see sidebar, next page), continued to assemble a portfolio of clients and customers that culminated in 2011 revenues of $1.6 billion, up more than 419% from the year prior. It appeared as though the coupon site and its ilk represented a way to forevermore populate small businesses with a stream of enthusiastic consumers. [read]