As reported yesterday on Bloter and elsewhere, Groupon, the grand-daddy of social commerce, is opening for business in Korea on the 14th of this month.
As Richard Choi has written before, Groupon will be entering a market where social commerce is already fiercely competitive. From practically nothing at the beginning of 2010, social commerce was worth more than 50 billion won a year later, with new sites cropping up seemingly by the week.
But Groupon is no ordinary competitor. The site now operates across more than 250 markets worldwide, with well over 30 million registered users. In addition, unlike many social media phenomena, Groupon is hugely profitable: In 2010, the company’s revenue soared 20-fold to more than $760 million.
Already, more than 16,000 people have registered with Groupon’s Korean site, and the company is up and running on Facebook and Twitter, and has blogs on Naver and Daum. With a definite whiff of apprehension, market leaders Ticket Monster and Coupang have been engaged in a marketing blitz in recent weeks, splashing ads with models all over subway stations, TV and portal sites. By contrast, Groupon has been keeping things very low-key, relying largely on word of mouth and social media to build up its imminent arrival.
Though it’s too early to know exactly how it will fare, Groupon has the experience and resources to become a major player in Korea. Its initial efforts at localisation seem to be working well and, at least as importantly, Koreans’ long-time antipathy toward foreign internet services is increasingly a thing of the past. On the flip side, the current market leaders have had a full year to bed in, and competition in the social commerce arena doesn’t seem to have the thudding inevitability of Facebook and Twitter’s global domination.
For anyone who’s interested, Groupon’s official launch conference will be taking place at Platoon Kunsthalle in Seoul on the 14th.