China's bargain hunters swoop on the 'Groupon' phenomenon

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Indy Lifestyle Online

It's a nation that has always had an eye for a bargain - and for a trend. And so it was only a matter of time before the success of North America's "Groupon'' website found its own versions in China.

But what has been startling to consumers here - and international visitors able to make use of the services too - has been just how many such sites have sprung up over the past 12 months.

The Chicago-based Groupon.com ( http://www.groupon.com) - the name is a mixture of the words "group'' and "coupon'' - set the template two years ago. Basically by directing mass online purchases, they are able to offer consumers who sign up to the service all manner of massive discounts.

More than a dozen such sites have sprung up in Hong Kong this year while China - never to be outdone - has seen 900 versions pop up through such massive internet portals as Sina ( http://www.sina.com). But the Hong Kongers claim they provide better value for tourists as they are concentrated to just one city.

"It enables you to explore the city and experience what you wouldn't do without the discounts,'' Hong Kong's Ubuyibuy ( http://www.ubuyibuy.com) founder Danny Yeung told the South China Morning Post today.

Yeung says most of the service's clients so far are "office ladies'' which is in keeping with Groupon.com's most recent survey which claimed 77 percent of its users are female and 49 percent of these are single.

Hong Kong's BeeCrazy.com ( http://www.beecrazy.hk) says it has almost 50,000 registered users on the Facebook page it only opened in July and they have so far been attracted by healthy discounts on tickets to Hong Kong's Broadway cinema circuit and even to nearby Macau's City of Dreams resort. Other sites over discounts on haircuts and entry to nightclubs.

And they are all spurred on by the Groupon.com success story. Industry watchers say that business turns over more than US$1.35 billion (1.05 billion euros) and attracts more than 10 million users per month.

Five of Hong Kong's favourites: http://www.ubuyibuy.com; http://valuup.com; http://www.beecrazy.hk; http://funshare.com; http:///www.mucutepons.com

MS

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