Groupon’s bad press continues in Japan

February 23rd, 2011By Category: Starting a Business

Few companies can ever hope to match the speed of growth of Groupon, the red-hot buying site that has spread through cities around the world at a frantic pace and here in Japan at least, inspired competitors of just about every shape and size – some of which we looked at in our coverage of Japanese e-commerce sites.

One of the reasons for the site’s interest is undoubtedly the easy-to-understand concept. You put in your email address or download the app, and every day they highlight a new participating restaurant or small-business with a special offer to take advantage of.

It’s something that print media in Japan have been doing for ages, just on a larger, more cumbersome scale with coupon books like Hot Pepper.

Yet, over the new year Groupon, scored a massive own-goal with an osechi special offer that went horribly wrong. Chicago-based CEO Andrew Mason was quick to apologize, but as we pointed out at the time, forgot to bow.

Now blog Japan Probe is reporting that the Japanese media has been heaping more bad press on the site, this time for a deal that was canceled before members had the chance to take part in it.

As can be seen in the video below, the claim against Groupon is that the aggressive tactics of Groupon sales staff, together with their 50% cut of any deal, almost forced the participating shop out of business. It was that which then convinced the shop to cancel the deal, judging that it was better to stay alive than to help Groupon’s ongoing journey towards world domination.

This is not the only case, too. At the start of the month, tech-site Asiajin covered another pasting that the company got at the hands of the Japanese press. This time it was the Nikkei having a run at the site. As they point out, it is coverage like this, NHK and other TV networks that educate the wider consumers in the market and ultimately decide the stickiness of a business. Judging by what has happened to Groupon in the last 2 months, don’t be surprised if it does not make it to 2012.

Photo credit: Michael Brys / Flickr


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GaijinPot is an online community for foreigners living in Japan, providing information on everything you need to know about enjoying life here, from finding a job and accommodation to having fun.

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