One thing I love about mentioning Groupon in a room full of bakery owners is that you are almost always guaranteed a very quick and definitive response.
"What are the panelists' thoughts on Groupon?" I asked near the end of this morning's educational session on low-cost promotions to increase bakery traffic--hoping for a little insight into the effectiveness of collective coupon programs.
"No," replied Mary Gassen of Noe Valley Bakery and Odette D'Aniello of Celebrity Cake Studio in unison.
"We did one," said Ed Maher of Tilda's Bake Shop, after the murmurs among audience members died down a little. "But we found that the sales and return rate were not effective."
Suddenly, a determined voice from the back of the audience chimed in: "Groupon isn't meant to make money. That's not how the model works. The only reason we use it is to get the email addresses of people who wouldn't otherwise see you. Think about how many inboxes get those emails everyday."
Later, Gassen elaborated on her earlier response. "Groupon just doesn't fit with our business model," she said. "We would really rather focus on turning out a quality product." Plus, new customers who come in to redeem a Groupon often aren't as interested in high-quality product, she observed. "They're someone looking for free stuff."
Just imagine what would happen if I mentioned Groupon during Happy Hour.