LivingSocial vs Groupon: Which Daily Deal Site Is Better?

All the Rage 12

If you're a coffee addict, I hope you snatched up the popular LivingSocial deal that was offered on Wednesday, because a $10 Starbucks gift card for $5 was a pretty sweet offer. Heck, you could have bought two of the deals for $10, and with your resulting $20 worth of Starbucks credit, purchased a 31-ounce Trenta Java Chip Frappucino with a shot of soy milk, caramel flavoring, a scoop of banana puree, another scoop of strawberry puree, a few vanilla beans, some protein powder, and a caramel drizzle -- then you'd only owe an extra $3.60!

Anyway, bizarrely convoluted beverage orders aside, yesterday's Starbucks offer put the spotlight back on daily deal websites, which have fallen off the radar lately. Groupon's stock has been dropping since their IPO in 2011, and LivingSocial (which is backed by Amazon) recently reported a net loss of $93 million.

They may be down, but the daily-deal sites clearly aren't out -- so let's take a look at how Groupon and LivingSocial compare:

On the surface, these two sites are pretty similar. Both offer daily deal emails, focus on metropolitan areas, and offer discounts on anything from dinner to dancing.

Groupon has around twice as many customers, based on a study done in July 2012. My thinking would be that a deal site with a bigger audience could pull in better offers, but it seems to be LivingSocial that's been getting the high-profile partnerships. Before the Starbucks deal, there was a similar $10 for $5 promotion with Whole Foods that sold a jaw-dropping 115,000 per hour.

When comparing the two for my home city's deals, here's what each site is offering as of this writing:

Groupon: 50% off a half-day of rafting on the Rogue River.
LivingSocial: One month of unlimited Bikram yoga for $40.

Both of those are appealing, I guess, but definitely not something I can use in my everyday life. I need, like, half off a mega-pack of extra-absorbent paper towels, or a month's worth of unlimited kid play center passes or something. But that's the thing with these kinds of sites, you never know what you're going to get -- there's something new every day.

As for which site is more popular among people I actually know, I conducted an informal Twitter poll:

Living Social as they have never tried to sell me a coupon for toenail fungus treatments (WTF?)  -- Daisy

Living social has less weird offers. Too many liposuction and colon cleanse groupons. -- Katrina

Livingsocial. At least here (Chicago) they seem to have better deals. Groupon has been a lot of LASIK and dentist appts lately.  -- Anne

Living social. I like that if three people buy through your link you get it free. -- Courtney

Groupon, for no particular reason other than I was aware of them first. -- Angela

Groupon has a better app. -- April

Groupon. They offer way more deals (with better discounts) in my area than livingsocial.

I wish I lived somewhere large enough that Groupon or LS was even available. 26,000 people is too small, apparently. -- Artemesia

We use both- never know who will have the better deal -- Axel

So it seems like my own survey group prefers LivingSocial somewhat, but if you really want to hedge your bets, it's probably best to sign up for both. That way, you never miss an opportunity to have a colon cleanse while you're performing yoga on a raft and slugging back a delicious cup of caffeine. Thanks, daily deal sites!

Which site do you like better, LivingSocial or Groupon? Did you get the Starbucks deal yesterday?


Images via LivingSocial, Groupon

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