Recently I met a vivacious, young mother of two, Vera Sweeney, who is very much an entrepreneur.
Vera runs three rather clever web sites, one of which, ladyandtheblog.com is a sassy example of “fashionistas” taking to the web, often with video cameras (vloggers), to share their shopping successes and opinions for those of us (all of us), ever eager to find deals and good goods.
Vera talked about her recent trip to New York’’s Shoegasm (she lives in New York) where she evaluated the still sexy appeal of thigh-high stiletto boots. But for those wanting less sexy shoe wear, something more practical say for the office party, she discussed the appeal of platform pumps.
Shamelessly she blogged about doing serious damage at Anne Taylor with a 40% off coupon, and saved more by taking advantage of the free shipping. She generously offered the coupon code, all music to the ears of recession-buffeted shoppers.
Which led me to think about the recent article by Matt Schwartz in Wired Magazine on the coupon revolution.
With bright, bold, poster-like art suggestive of revolutions, Schwartz delves into the “the reconstruction of shopping into a contact sport,” where consumers increasingly refuse to buy on the the terms merchants dictate to them.
Of course he sites two-year old Groupon as the fastest growing company ever (Forbes), and its 500 million bucks in projected revenue. In fact, Groupon is so successful, Google is poised to buy it for 5 or 6 billion dollars, giving Google a prize that has eluded it so far: entry into the local business market.
Schwartz also points out the priceless power of Groupon to get us to buy stuff we never knew we wanted, and may never use, like those Rock Climbing lessons or erotic photo portraits.
Still Groupon and kindred sites like GottaDeal and Hot Coupon World, have neatly fused the group engagement power of social networking with the human impulse to make a deal and shop.
But in the coupon cases, the collective price and collective buying experience make everyone a winner. Retailers get more business, make more sales (albeit at a lower price), and the power and savings go to the consumer. As well as the chance to buy stuff they never would have.
The use of videos now firmly in the hands of fashionistas adds a new twist.
The coupon-seeking, bargain-hunting shoppers have morphed into vloggers where they share their shopping “hauls” with the world via YouTube, and video on their personal blogs.
And shoppers are proving very addicted to searching YouTube and visiting blogs to learn about these deals and coupons before they open their wallets.
Many of these sites have hundreds and thousands of viewers quick to catch the latest video on the latest deal or crowd-sourced opinions.
As Gary Cohen of AMP, a Boston-based marketing agency told the Boston Globe, the fashion videos tap into shoppers’ emotional excitement of finding something and sharing it.”
Merchants, as a segment of the on line culture, are quicker to adapt and adopt to the opportunities of social media, it seems, than are the CEO’s of companies, and even the travel segment which should know better.
Just ask Vera Sweeney, if you can catch her.