Daily deals from a full-price customer’s perspective

I’ve previously shared my doubts about daily deals (Groupon, LivingSocial, etc.) and their bottom-line and long-term benefit for small businesses. Part of that was based on my own behavior as a user of those types of deals, as very rarely did I ever return to pay full price after using one.

Only recently, however, have I experienced what it’s like to be an existing full-price customer of a place that runs a daily deal. The punchline: it sucks.

I’m in Chicago for the summer, doing my MBA internship, and found a fantastic gym called Core Fitness. It has a class called Train Like Jane, a women-only primal-style workout in which we flip truck tires, run relays with sandbags, etc. I always emerge dirty, drenched in sweat, high on adrenaline, and grinning ear to ear. I happily paid full price for a 10-class pass and raved about the place to my coworkers and friends.

Then, Core Fitness participated in a Groupon deal and, suddenly, the classes were chock full and the popular days/times booked a few weeks out. Talking to the new students, I found out that they’d paid $1 per class and were just there “to check it out.” They’re lucky my primally-buff self didn’t punch them out!

So, Core Fitness, and any other business considering selling its services for a fraction of the price (the gym made, what 50¢/student/class?) … take a moment to consider how your loyal, full-price customers will feel.

In this particular case, I’m working my butt off in a class I barely squeezed into, watching the trainer coach Looky Loos who are unlikely to return when their $1/class deal is up. It’s way worse than the New Year’s Resolution flood at the gym. At least those short-timers are paying full price and, honestly, subsidizing the those of us who go all year.

When a flood of Grouponers hits a place you love, it stings like it’s personal.

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