Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Groupon in Morocco

By Naziha Houki, IMC Grad Student, Marketing Strategist and Analyst, @nazihahouki

When I was a young professional living in Morocco, I continuously looked for new and fun weekend activities to enjoy with friends; yet I never could enjoy these activities without spending 25 percent of my monthly paycheck. Then, I moved to the U.S. to pursue a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University. Upon arriving to Evanston, I discovered Groupon, a daily deal site that enriched my experience in Chicago in so many ways. As a marketer, I admire their ability to customize offers to the neighborhood and/or city one lives in, while helping businesses acquire new customers. As a customer, I thought, “if only I had this back home”. And guess what… Groupon has arrived in Morocco!

The Chicago-based daily deals leader entered the Moroccan market this past year, a few months after the launch of local daily deals and couponing sites. The concept of daily deals was introduced in Morocco in January 2011 by Mydeal.ma, a Living Social partner and has already reached 1.5 million subscribers or 3.5% of the population. The daily deal industry targets a growing segment of digitally active consumers. According to the World Bank, Internet users are expected to increase by 50% each year since 2008 as Internet and ecommerce becomes more accessible.

The main barrier to acquiring more subscribers is the fear of using the Internet to make financial transactions, as this resource has just been introduced in 2011. As a result, the most difficult task Groupon will have is to convert the subscribers into buyers and become a trusted platform instead of being an informative platform.

Number of Coupons Sold in the Middle East

Daily deal service is a nascent yet very promising industry in most countries, which has encouraged Groupon to enter developed and emerging markets where they can become the first-movers and trendsetters. In France, for example, Groupon competes against start-ups that do not have the resources to offer the same depth and breadth of deals. Business Insider explains: “French consumers love Groupon. Saving money and looking for good deals online has become a cultural habit here. With Groupon, they can live their lives 50% off.” In the Middle East however, Groupon is challenged by a clone and first-mover, Cobone, which has sold almost twice as much coupons as Groupon in 2010.

Although Mydeal.ma has the advantage of being the first mover, Groupon has more resources, more expertise and the reputation of being trusted in France, a country that is close to Moroccan hearts**. Groupon.ma has recently launched a sweepstake campaign through Facebook to increase awareness among digitally active Moroccans and encourage them to share their email address and become subscribed users. The prizes for the winners are 50 coupons of 100 Moroccan Dirhams (MAD), an iPad 2 or a 10,000 MAD Groupon credit. This campaign allows Groupon to compile a database that will allow them to reach potential subscribers and communicate their value proposition.

The presence of Groupon will encourage the growth of small and medium service companies, which do not have the means to market their services. At the same time, it will allow Moroccans to be more adventurous and spice up their leisure time with affordable activities, which are currently lacking. I believe Groupon will quickly create loyalty among Moroccans like myself, who are digitally active, have shopped online before and are eager to find great group deals.

I can’t wait to start buying with Moroccan Groupons!

**Morocco was under French protectorate from 1912 to 1956 and continually influences Moroccans’ lifestyle and culture even after their independence.

  • J.B. "Groupon, Leader Mondial Des Achats Groupés En Ligne, S'installe Au Maroc." Lavieeco.com. 04 July 2011. Web. 21 Nov. 2011. <http://www.lavieeco.com/news/economie/groupon-leader-mondial-des-achats-groupes-en-ligne-s-installe-au-maroc-19199.html>.
  • Besnaïnou, Jonathan. "How France Became The #2 Market For Groupon - Business Insider." Featured Articles From The Business Insider. 02 May 2011. Web. 21 Nov. 2011. <http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-05-02/tech/29996436_1_samwer-brothers-daily-deal-citydeal>.
  • Collins, Dylan. "Groupon Is Getting Killed In The Middle East - Business Insider." Featured Articles From The Business Insider. 16 June 2011. Web. 21 Nov. 2011. <http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-06-16/tech/29998841_1_groupon-social-media-andrew-mason>.

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