Groupon Japan’s Osechigate Still Smoldering

The poor traditional holiday food (osechi) delivery happened on New Year’s day around Groupon Japan, followed by media bash then Groupon world CEO’s sincere but delayed video apology 17 days later, must affected somewhat on their Japanese penetration and pitching daily deal business itself.

Even though a month passed, media rushing on this issue has not ceased. On Friday 3rd, Japanese economic newspaper Nikkei’s online released 6 pages, intensively researched long article that explains from what this coupon service is, to osechi and several other problems happening [J]. I have never seen other news which dug down such deep on this topic.

Nikkei pointed out that too-pushy sales caused the troubles, and it is needed to check if only coupon services get fruit against shops and consumers. They also covered a shop owner who ought to sell and cancel thousands of coupons by following Groupon sales’ insufficient explanation, needed to sign on an agreement that he would never tell about it, if he wants to cancel.

Then, Saturday night, national public TV NHK broadcasted 24 minutes documentary, “Kyukakudai! Gekiyasu Ku-pon Saito”(Booming! Heavily-discounted coupon sites) in their weekly program Tsuiseki(Chasing) A to Z.

The program began with explaining what coupon service is as well. NHK interviews some of service providers and let them talk how much it reduces marketing cost with getting social buzz, however, the tone of the program were negative overall, at least web users felt so (from Tweets and 2-channel board
s).

NHK aired the closed Bird Cafe, the osechi vendor. Then they introduced shop-side anecdotes. A hamburger shop in Nagoya, who claims to be forced by sales persons to issue 2,622 tickets, with the price below the cost and they can only serve 30 set per day. The shop served 700 in 2 month but resulted in cancelling the rest. Another Izakaya (Japanese food bar) shopkeeper told that a sales person posted photos of dish which were not theirs (taken from somewhere).

Nikkei and NHK are the ones of the most trusted news sources in Japan, especially by mid-to-old generations. Those people might know the coupon business and its bad reputations at the same time by these.

On the web, someone made a half sized figure of the Bird Cafe’s poor osechi set,

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

and the osechi T-shirt is sold, too.

Groupon Slows Down After New Year Osechi Incident In Japan

One month after the Groupon Japan’s New Year celebration food Osechi delivery trouble, Japanese consumers mind seem to be away from daily deal coupon services, even with the Groupon CEO Andrew Mason’s video apology.

A vertical coupon search service Coupon-jp issued a research [J]. There, they tracked all coupon sold on Groupon Japan and other 146 clones during January 2011, comparing the sales with the month before. Here is the top sellers,

As you see, Japanese daily deal market is competed between Groupon Japan and Pompare, by Japanese media conglomerate Recruit. Recently, lots of ads space are taken up by these two companies on Japanese web.

According to the research, in January, Groupon Japan decreased its sales 14% from December, Pompare lost 18%. The total of 147 sites, i.e. industry, also lost 16% sales.

For a month, there have been a lot of media reports on this issue and the word ‘Groupon’ on TV, newspapers and magazines. There were people who predicted that this might even promote Groupon business in Japan rather than making people cautious, which has not realized so far.

About the osechi incident, Groupon Japan released their internal research on January 29th. There they disclosed two more problems, 8 foods in the New Year’s set used different ingredients from what they had been labeled, and the original-priced set had never been sold in reality. Groupon Japan emphasizes that they are not a vendor or seller of the osechi set but “feel morally responsible”.

Bird Cafe, the seller of the set also post their explanation on their site’s top page, however, this notes are written not in texts but in single big image, which makes web people angry again as they think it is their trying to avoid search engine and make it less findable.

January 2011 Japan IT Links (Part 1)

Early part of January news which we did not write as a dedicated article. Continued to (Part 2)

The year 2011 began with Groupon osechi trouble in Japanese web. New year holidays is the period when there are least news in Japan, and it helped that osechi story lasted for a whole week. There are some follow-up news below.

Another topic is that my(Akky’s) comment was on current Facebook Japan situation story on New York Times on 10th, with a link to Asiajin, which is great.

Referred pages are all in Japanese, unless otherwise stated.

If you want to know any specific news more, but unable to find them in other English blog/media, please let us know.