Sha Meng, a Beijing IT firm employee, is included in the so-called “80s” demographic (those born between 1980 and 1989). Every morning when he turns on his computer, he first checks several “team-buy” websites, scouring them for a bargain. In the eyes of his friends and colleagues, Sha is a textbook group buying enthusiast.
On the front page of Meituan.com, one of China’s largest group-buy websites, a plethora of products and services are advertised at tremendous discounts: A pair of shoes retailing at 298 yuan are offered for only 69 yuan to team buyers. A youth photography package worth 1,880 yuan is listed at 480. A buffet for four valued at 818 yuan sells for only 258. Spa service normally priced at 398 goes for 158…- Every great deal is highly attractive to eyes such as Sha Meng’s.
“Last April, Meituan.com joined with a new movie theater to offer a discount deal,” Sha recalls. “Group buyers could pay 39 yuan for two tickets that originally went for 168 yuan, with popcorn and Coke included. For that price, I was able to take my girlfriend to Alice in Wonderland in 3D right when it opened in China.” That pleasant experience ignited his passion for group buying. Sha estimates that online group buying cuts his entertainment and dining costs by at least half.
The growing popularity of group-buy websites testifies to the rise of the trend in large Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. Statistics show that the majority of buyers are between the ages of 25 and 35. Prices are always better in bulk, and due to the huge numbers of potential buyers, vendors are willing to slash prices as much as 95 percent to make big sales. Such savings are the most powerful attraction luring even more consumers to the sites.
Online Group Buying Boom
Getting better prices by making purchases together isn’t an entirely new concept. However, the ability to do so online with the help of a website has only recently emerged, and the concept quickly spread throughout the cyber world.