An online method of buying and receiving a "coupon" or voucher, users can print the coupon and use it to save on a variety of products and services such as whitewater rafting, spa packages, and restaurants. New deeply discounted deals are offered on a daily basis through free members sites (such as Groupon, LivingSocial and Scoutmob) and generally last for one day.
It is called "social couponing" because customers can share their deal with friends on Facebook, Twitter or e-mail, and if three friends buy the same deal, they get it free.
Some of the major social couponing companies are:
Groupon - launched: 2008 Services: One daily deal that requires a certain number of people to buy before reaching its "tipping point," plus other local deals at restaurants, spas/salons, activities and others. Advantage: First to the market, claims more than a million NYC members
LivingSocial - launched: Daily deals in 2009, but founded in 2007 Services: Daily deal plus other local deals; "family edition" focused on family oriented deals; mobile "instant deals" Advantage: No "tipping point," and deals become free if you get three friends to buy it
Scoutmob - launched: 2010 Services: Local deals that are instantly redeemable via your mobile phone; more culinary-focused; daily deals Advantage: Mobile- and location-based, sends deals right to your phone wherever you are