2012 was not a great year for the daily deal business. Groupon's stock took a 30 percent nose dive after the company's November earnings report. And a recent study by Reuters called the Groupon business model "fundamentally flawed."
The industry may be down, but it's not out. You can still get discounts on everything from burgers to bamboo bathrobes. But as of last night, there is at least one thing you can't get a Groupon for anymore: anything related to guns.
James Moncherry first started using the daily deal site LivingSocial in October 2011 to offer deals on the firearm conceal-and-carry classes his company, Active Defense Awareness Training, offers. "And we had some excellent success with them," he says.
So he launched a campaign with Groupon and was also a success. But one month after the Newtown elementary school shooting sparked a debate over gun control, Groupon said it received a number of complaints about its gun-related deals so it pulled all of them, including Moncherry's. "For me, my logical question is: How many people complained?" he says.
He says that Groupon could not give him an exact number. The company only issued a statement saying that based on performance and customer feedback, firearm-related deals are not a right fit right now.
Moncherry is now looking for other daily deal sites that will accept his business. He has a promising lead at one called DealChicken.com. But he is also spending more on ads in gun magazines.
"To be quite frank," says Moncherry, "we're starting to look at the fact that maybe we don't need the deal sights anymore."
Rakesh Agarwal is an analyst at Redesign Mobile. He says the loss of revenue from gun-related deals is pretty immaterial. "It's more about what the social media impact will be."
Several pro-gun groups have announced that they are boycotting Groupon. But because daily deal sights do most of their business in urban areas that tend to favor gun-control laws, Agarwal says, overall the risk of losing business is pretty low for daily deal companies.