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Groupon-like buying opens up new investable markets

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Groupon-like buying opens up new investable markets

This is a far-fetched idea but run with it a bit.  We’re already seeing the creation of secondary markets in groupon deals.  These are eBay-like exchanges like Lifesta where customers who bought a coupon can sell it to someone else looking for access to that particular deal.

Taking this further, what would happen to these secondary market if they matured?  They could potentially morph into real-time exchanges, like the stock market, where customers call transact with one another but more interestingly, vendors (supply-side) can essentially bid on where a particular customer will dine on a particular night (demand).  Supply and demand meet and prices determined in real-time.  It could allow small businesses to manage their yield, selling excess inventory at a discount to recoup costs.

Anyway, the idea wasn’t mine but it got me thinking about it.  Matthew Ingram on GigaOM discussed this in a post on the future of local social buying:

Right now, Groupon-style group buying is more or less just coupons that get sent to you via email to entice you to sign up. What if you could look at a real-time, auction-style exchange of local offers from merchants or retailers or restaurants in your vicinity — maybe even on your mobile device — and pick the offer you wanted for dinner that evening? You can’t do that now, but that’s one vision of where the local group-buying phenomenon is headed in the future, according to Don Rainey, a partner with Grotech Ventures and an investor in LivingSocial, the number two player in the U.S. group-buying market next to Groupon.

Rainey said he sees a day when merchants and potential customers interact through a kind of real-time exchange — like a stock exchange, with buyers and sellers, but for local offers on meals or other goods. “I can see local retailers and consumers bidding in a real-time system for where that consumer is going to go for dinner,” says Rainey. If a merchant is having a slow night, they can put an offer into the system and users can choose between that and multiple other offers, based on location and the time they want to go out. As someone who is constantly looking for new options for places to eat in my local area, this sounds like a winner to me.

Local deals become an investable asset of sorts.  Investors could speculate on in-demand seats at swanky restaurants finding liquidity in these platforms (whether they profit or not).  Fixed supply (like art) and fluctuating demand could influence big rises and falls in the prices of these assets.

Like I said, far-fetched but interesting to think about.

Source: LivingSocial and the Future of Local Group Buying (GigaOM)

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