Last year the company was bidding to overtake market leader Groupon in the UK in terms of revenue, but LivingSocial’s UK and Ireland general manager Peter Briffett says its targets are now less about sales and more about focusing on the quality of its subscriber and merchant base.
The change of focus follows a raft of negative press in recent months about the sector, mainly referring to the rising number of complaints made about companies’ “misleading” advertising to the Advertising Standards Authority and human interest stories about merchants unhappy with the results of their daily deals campaigns.
Briffett says he is now less concerned about new competition from brands such as Amazon and Nectar than he was a year ago because he is confident LivingSocial is the “premier” brand in the sector, which has the vision of being the “default answer for local [experiences]”.
He adds: “You have to have exceptional and really preference targeted content for people to keep looking at your emails for two years. The people that survive in this space need to maintain levels of excitement with their audience and [high levels of customer service] – this is not about being the biggest: 87 per cent of businesses who work with us want to work with us again.”
Nigel Clarkson, LivingSocial’s head of sales for UK and Ireland, says the company sees itself as the “Waitrose” of the sector.
“Our brand is different: we are Waitrose. Maybe we don’t have as many customers as Tesco but that’s not what we or they want to do. We don’t have any ASA complaints that have been upheld about us this year and the majority of our merchants want to come back to us,” he says.
One of the reasons merchants and brands keep returning to LivingSocial to do deals is the level of “granular data” it can provide them about their campaigns, Clarkson says.
He adds there is also the potential for LivingSocial to monetise this data and provide an additional revenue stream by offering it to brands to help inform their advertising on other media.
“We could advise L’Oreal on the best days to launch their press or TV ads and where because we have people on the ground with huge local knowledge [and a database of 3.5 million UK customers and their purchasing habits]. We know the best pricing and the best days of the week that people buy a haircut in Aberdeen or Liverpool, so there’s a real chance to monetise our data,” Clarkson says.