Benjamin Franklin

Will Groupon repeat its Grouponion ploy?


Today’s leading dailies announce that the retail rate of onion has soared and reportedly touched Rs.100/- per kilo  in the Capital.  Surely this presses the panic button in the political circle since onion  price levels are notoriously linked to political fortunes if one goes by the political  history since 1980.

Onion is  very dear to the rich and poor alike.  It is a great leveller. Though politicians have been using the issue of onion in the daily statements  and counter statements, none imagined that this could offer an excellent opportunity to popularise a commercial brand inexpensively and in a shortest  period of  just 10 days.


Groupon.co.in (www.groupon.co.in) is a daily deals and discounts portal . It is the Indian arm of Groupon, US. operating in about 48 countries since November 2008.  Groupon features a daily deal on food stuff, durables, restaurants, leisure, travel etc. As the name denotes, the business model is akin to cooperative buying model – collective buying gets lower purchase price per unit.  The price advantage gained out of purchase synergies get passed on to buyers on the website.

The marketing team of Groupon website had spotted a marketing ammo in the dear onion. It takes real  ingenuity to  derive marketing mileage out of the emotions prevailing around onion.


During the first week of September 2013, the retail price of onion was in the range of Rs. 60 – Rs.70 per kilo. Groupon announced a deal starting 5th of Sept. 2013 that offered 1 kg. of onion at Rs.9/- .   This offer started at 1.00 p.m each day on the Groupon site and closed as soon as 3000 kilos were booked for that day.  This continued for 7 days  creating an excellent case study for creative approach to marketing.

We  presume that the primary objective of this bold initiative would have been to increase the awareness about the brand Groupon across the different SEC segments. Also, make those who are already familiar with online ordering to get into Groupon and become its users..This offer generated a concoction of awe, surprise, curiosity and even doubts  leading to an intense word of mouth.   Groupon marketing team must be celebrating the success of this exercise.


Mr.Ankur Warikoo, CEO here in India has given out the details of gains of this strategy, to a question in Quora. The results run into a long list.  However, a few of them that are quite relevant to the objectives have been hand picked by us:

1. Importantly, they had registered 16500 new buyers for Groupon, besides renewal of several thousands of those who did not buy from Groupon in the recent past.

2.The Groupon site was so overwhelmed with traffic that it crashed on the 2nd day of the deal.

3.The campaign was widely covered in national and international print and electronic media, as a unique promotion.

4. The brand Groupon moved higher in Google search  by over 400%

Surely this initiative must have posed a formidable challenge in terms of logistics since the offer was open across 78 markets of India. In terms of units  of delivery it is equivalent to the 22500 kilos sold.



Apart from heaping praise on the marketing team of Groupon  for this strategy, we would like to especially highlight two  key strategic components of this initiative:

a)  The price: Pricing it at Rs.9/- per kilo was a brilliant move.  This is what has enhanced the “shock” value in the game plan. The public reaction should have been ” Onion? Not even ten rupees a kg? I don’t believe this! “

b)  Delivering it in a package with branding. Yes. This has helped them to make the brand Groupon known to all members of a family besides curious neighbours and  friends who were not directly involved in the online purchase process. This added power to the spread of  word of mouth .

We are also of the opinion that this strategy has inspired the marketing fraternity to look the creative way in order to stand out of clutter.

That brings us back to our question.  Now that the onion has reportedly touched the Rs.100/- mark, will Groupon repeat its Grouponion?

Let’s wait and watch. visit: www.groupon.co.in


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