Posted October 27, 2010 5:20 pm by with 11 comments

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They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I’m not sure Groupon felt the love when they saw Walmart’s new marketing plan on Facebook.

They call it the “CrowdSaver,” and guess how it works. When a deal reaches a certain customer threshold, the deal is unlocked and everyone gets to buy in for a discounted price. The only difference between Walmart’s CrowdSaver and Groupon (and it’s a big one) is the upfront money.

When you choose a deal on Groupon, you’re committed to buy provided that the deal hits the threshold. (I’ve always wondered what percentage of deals never hit the mark. . .. ) Walmart isn’t looking for your credit card info or a purchase promise. All you have to do to join the deal on their Facebook page is “like” the deal.

Big deal. With no commitment, sure people are going to click, why not? What is Walmart gaining here?

A headache, if you ask me. Here’s why. The current deal, a Plasma TV for a measly 18% off has reached its 5000 “likes” threshold. The deal is now active — only, it’s not. If you click through on the buy button, you’ll be charged the full price. If you look at the comments, people are doing this and they’re frustrated. You have to read the whole ad to see that the price won’t actually go into effect until “later this week.” Meaning, if you want it, you have to keep hitting Walmart’s Facebook page to check.

From Walmart’s POV, I can see the power here. They’ve created a scenario that appears to be time sensitive and plays into the “part of the group” mentality. For the consumer, this is nothing but smoke and mirrors. The deal isn’t much of a deal at all and the promise of unlocking it when it hits a benchmark is lie. It’s just another TV on sale this weekend at Walmart. But the clever marketing folks have made 5,000 people believe that they made it happen.

Once the novelty wears off, I’m betting CrowdSaver will have a short shelf-life.

What do you think of Walmart’s CrowdSaver program? A clever marketing ploy or a poor imitation of the real thing?

  • LOL, It suckered me in the other day, because b) my magnanimous nature drove me to secure the deal for all the other folks, and b) I really wasn’t going to buy the tv anyway.

    So, now wal-mart is in my news feed and will probably stay there unless and until they piss me off.

  • I’m not surprised that Walmart is trying out the group-buying model. They are a huge company in the U.S., and I’m sure they want to bring in more consumers looking for discounts.

    A great site to use to find the deals and sales available in your area from any daily deal site is They’ll send you one daily email including all the great discounts, so you don’t have to search the web.

  • Kaley K

    I can see where this “money-saving deal” would be appealing to many people! It’s amazing how much control Wal-Mart has over the price of goods. The fact that Wal-Mart can provide a service that controls the price of goods without having to consult the good’s maker (Element in this case) is impressive. If they can work out the kinks in their system then I think Crowd-Saver will be extremely successful.

  • I was sort of waiting for this to happen. Groupon (despite being absolutely disruptive in many ways) is a concept more than it is a business model. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of what they are doing (for the most part) and I’ve got respect for their hustle. That said, the concept can be applied to any business. The kicker? If you DIY, there’s no revenue share.

    But, as you point out, Walmart is Walmarting this: baking in their own pain points and inventing their own rules. But hey, they’re Walmartians. What did you expect?

    • I agree with you Andrew. That is why our site, exists. We provide any site with the ability to easily run their own white-label Group-on style sales. We also give them access to our entire business network. While our platform may not be applicable for a Walmart because they undeniably have the capacity to completely do it themselves, for mid-level publishers/businesses it is hard to pass up. Just need to get it in front of their faces.

  • It is an interesting way to drive likes, though. If they had required people to like the product page ( instead of the deal on Facebook (, they could have driven more traffic to their site as well, in addition to getting 5,000+ likes for a product page which may increase their visibility in Bing’s social search. Of course, first they’d have to make their ecom site like-able by adding the Like button. Interesting to consider the possibilities and which would have the bigger impact.

    • Cynthia

      This seems like a precursor to being able to shop directly from Facebook. I know that it’s being done with tickets and other things, so it seems like an intuitive leap.

  • Jillian

    > What is Walmart gaining here?
    > A headache, if you ask me. Here’s why

    Walmart isn’t gaining the headache.

    *YOU* are getting it.

  • Cynthia,

    You are right to point out the flaws in Walmart’s current implementation. However, I am more sanguine than you are that the problems you identify are solvable.

    For example, my company,, offers merchants a group buying solution for online retailers. In our solution, consumers are alerted by email so that they don’t have to keep checking back. I think that Walmart will get there eventually. (Perhaps with our help. 😉

    I love your suggestion about gertting people to pre-commit to the deal. Its more “fun” because it requires more engagement. Along a similar vein, we’re considering making the deal unlocked based on your personal influence. For example, maybe the deal is unlocked when you personally get 5 friends to check in!

    In short, I think it is a bit unfair to call Walmart’s move merely a “novelty.” In my opinion, it is an experiment in a nascent new world of social promotions!

    Many thanks for your article.


  • While Groupon was an early entrant to this market, it’s no longer the only option. More and more, people have to decide which offers are most valuable for them and which companies are providing those offers. Now people can get tons of different sources and decide which ones they want. The more the merrier, right? Doesn’t hurt to get two good deals a day instead of one. I’m biased, but I recommend checking out Entertainment’s brand new Daily Deal product. Sign up now for free and start receiving exceptional daily deals to your inbox. They’re rolling out city by city, so get on the list to start getting deals for your city as soon as they’re ready. Here’s the link:

  • Useful info. Lucky me I discovered your site by accident, and I’m surprised why this accident didn’t took place in advance!

    I bookmarked it.