Bob Phipps, writing over on The Retail Doctor, has an 11 piece post on Groupon (and similar sites) and their impact on retail.
He makes a pretty strong final argument on his post:
Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.
Tell those customers wanting you to match price, offer a “deal” or get you to offer a Groupon or other online coupon,” We had a choice a while ago to either pursue price or quality. It’s a choice our customers have appreciated for years. Our toys don’t break quickly.” Or, ” You won’t find our garments at Wal-Mart.” Or, ” Our spa’s masseuses are second to none.”
“That’s because we’ve discovered, as I’m sure you have, that you truly get what you pay for.”
You might even put that in an upcoming email along with the message “No Groupons – Ever.” That way your best customers know no one gets a better price than your loyal customers.
If you’ll go out there on your sales floor with a new attitude, a new direction that won’t settle, I promise you – you’ll find your way without discounting or couponing to people who don’t know you, aren’t interested in your success or who are trying to make every interaction “a deal.” But you have to look in the mirror and change what may be keeping customers from returning.
Pretty bold statement in the face of a bad economy, but I think he's making some excellent points. After the heave discounting a few seasons are back, most brands are finding it difficult to get their pricing back up. But brands that didn't discount, like A&F, saw significant sales declines. So what's a brand to do?
Is Groupon a good way to introduce your brand to potential clients? Or does it introduce you them to your brand in a way that's difficult to move into a new direction? Can you convince your audience that your service is worth extra money once the Groupon coupon is over?
It'll be interesting to see where this all leads in the future and which brands are able to maintain their value in the world without competing on price alone.