Group buying platforms like Groupon and LivingSocial are growing rapidly. Such platforms aggregate consumer demand in order to purchase goods or services at a significant discount. A minimum number of customers must commit to purchase before the offer can be fulfilled for all.

Consumers have fallen in love with group buying because it provides access to discounts which they couldn’t previously take advantage of. Marketers are also having a love affair because it facilitates bulk sales – guaranteeing a minimum volume – and upfront payment. Moreover, such platforms increasingly allow marketers to target specific offers to consumers based upon demographics and category interests.

Green marketers should take advantage of such platforms. Not only do such platforms drive bulk sales, but they can also expand the market for green products. Here’s how:

Platforms target interested consumers. Group buying sites can easily create green affinity groups in order for marketers to more precisely target those already predisposed to greener offers.  Such segments can be based on either self-reported data or past engagement and purchase behavior.

Discounts overcome price premiums. Making a product more eco-friendly is often associated with higher costs. When demand is aggregated, companies are more willing (and able) to provide discounts, making them more price competitive with less eco-friendly alternatives.

Peers influence purchase decisions. Group buying platforms can help influence purchase decisions through the power of social messaging. Most group buying sites provide real-time tallies of the number of consumers that have committed to purchase each item, as well as the number still needed to strike a deal. Such techniques are powerful motivators of consumer behavior by providing peer affirmation for their purchase decisions. This is especially important for greener products that may traditionally appeal to a niche audience. The more consumers believe that their peers have committed to purchase a product, the more likely that they will also give it a try.

Group buying platforms have provided a new marketing channel for many traditional products and services – green marketers would do well to similarly experiment with this platform to help expand their audience.

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Original Post: http://marketinggreen.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/green-groupon/

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