Coupons for Snobs? Expansion of ‘Groupon Reserve’ Continues

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Apparently, affluent foodies like getting deals as much as the next person. Groupon’s “Reserve” daily deal program, which focuses on fancy tasting menus and other luxury offerings, is spreading to its fourth U.S. city, Los Angeles. When considered alongside similarly high-end offers from Gilt City and LivingSocial Gourmet, the rise of Reserve points to the “elite daily deal” as a genuine trend.

Groupon Reserve launched in New York City last fall, and the company’s luxury offerings have since spread to Orlando, Seattle, and now, Los Angeles. The Chicago Tribune mentions that the first Reserve deal in L.A. is for a five-course tasting menu at Whist, a Santa Monica eatery that has to have one of the snobbiest-sounding restaurant names of all time.

The Whist tasting menu price is $99 for two people if purchased through Groupon Reserve, which compares quite favorably to the regular tasting menu price ($75 per person).

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Considering that restaurant coupons tend to be limited to the Friendly’s and Denny’s of the world, you might be wondering whether the kinds of people interested in fine-dining experiences would actually use coupons—or daily deals, as it is. Studies indicate that, indeed, it seems pretty likely that the luxury consumer likes the idea of getting special discounts.

That goes even for classic, clip-from-Sunday-circular coupons. Research shows that affluent consumers (household income of $70K+) are more likely to be heavy coupon users than people who live in poor households.

As for daily deals customers, they’re far better off financially than most. According to one study, 54% of households with incomes of $150K or more subscribe to one or more daily deal sites, compared to just 27% of households with incomes of $35K or less. Considering that the typical daily deal is for a “want” rather than a “need” (think: massages, restaurant meals, hot air balloon excursions), it seems appropriate that the typical daily deal customer is wealthy.

When it comes down to it, the experience is much more about spending than saving, really. If saving was truly the goal, it could be reached most easily by not spending anything in the first place.

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Perhaps even more importantly than the value proposition, what elite daily deals seem to be selling is exclusivity. Gilt City pumps up its “exclusive experiences” and “insider pricing,” while LivingSocial Gourmet promotes its fine-dining program as “an invitation-only collection of culinary experiences.”

Playing up the insider angle for these offers makes a lot of sense: If there’s one thing that some people enjoy more than a good deal, it’s bragging rights.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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