I think it requires a culture of going around on motorbikes. In indonesia, every other person already had one before Gojek, and taking a motortaxi, as mentioned, was normal. Will be hard to get enough penetration if that’s not a given.
As a former Groupon employee, I got to defend Groupon to a certain extent 🙂
I think there is something to say to go from 0 to 1 in terms of audience, as an artist starts of their career (or a restaurant opens it’s door etc). It’s hard to get the ball rolling and overcome the chicken-and-egg problem of “nobody wants to go to an empty restaurant/standup comedy/…”.
I also personally don’t believe that there is a long-term brand damage. It’s not like people are actively scouting Groupons just to see who is listing on the website, and customers who care about “exclusivity” and not to be spotted at a comedian’s show that is not considered “hip” are probably not on Groupon’s email list anyway.
What’s true though is the low quality (in terms of retention) of Groupon customers to their business. Indeed, Groupon’s investor told their e-commerce businesses not to list on Groupon for that reason.
So I consider Groupon as a great way to get started, learn and find first fans.
Making it a long-term strategy only works if the client breaks even on the Groupon itself, which isn’t unheard of. E.g. while the nominal discount is 50%, in reality many tricks are used, e.g. the show would create a special category of tickets which are only sold through Groupon, with an unreasonable high nominal price. 50% of that price might still be driving profits.