Why Is McDonalds Less Popular Than Whole Foods for Social Buyers?

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 1 2011 3:25 PM

LivingSocial Customers Don’t Want Fries with That

129069014

Photo by Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images

Today, “group-buying” site LivingSocial launched a McDonald’s deal offering $26 worth of Big Macs and fries for $13. This follows the smashing success of one of their September food offers, $20 worth of Whole Foods for $10, which sold out one million vouchers in 14 hours—an average of 70,000 per hour. Commentators speculate that LivingSocial hopes to replicate that success with the McDonald’s deal, while also picking up customers at the lower end of the daily-deal market.

How’s it going? So far, not nearly as well. As of 2:00 PM—eight hours into today’s deal—LivingSocial had only sold about 150,000 vouchers. “We don’t specifically trend-track over time for individual deals,” a LivingSocial representative said. “But we may be tracking slightly less than Whole Foods.”

Advertisement

Does this tell us something about the way social networking can affect our eating habits? Perhaps. People may be less inclined to brag to their friends on Twitter and Facebook—key social-buying vehicles—about Big Mac coupons than they are about the great deal they just got at a more upscale spot like Whole Foods. Though LivingSocial didn’t comment on the number of “Me Plus Three” (get three friends to buy, and you get the product for free) deals it sold for Whole Foods, it seems likely that the McDonald’s deal is yielding far fewer.

Of course, the demographics of Living Social customers also likely plays a role. According to Nielsen, more than half of LivingSocial customers earn more than $150,000 a year, nearly half are college educated, and one-third are between the ages of 21 and 34. Some LivingSocial buyers may even live closer to a Whole Foods than a McDonalds, as unlikely as that sounds: Though there are many more McDonald’s than Whole Foods, Whole Foods primarily populates affluent locations where LivingSocial’s well-off customers are more likely to live.

The flagging McDonald’s sale suggests that it might take more than cheap hamburgers to break into a more downscale market. And it echoes something that observers of the fledgling group-buying market have said before: Social buying services so far seem much better at giving consumers deals to retailers they already patronize than helping retailers acquire new, loyal customers.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 23 2014 6:00 AM Monster Kids from poorer neighborhoods keep coming to trick-or-treat in mine. Do I have to give them candy?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.