Google buying Groupon: unconfirmed rumor with green potential

Google buying Groupon: unconfirmed rumor with green potential Printed paper takes energy and materials to produce and transport, and although electronic devices have similar costs, it’s a good bet that their total footprint is lower over the long run. Even if Google is thinking about buying Groupon its green credentials would be at best an incidental gain to the search giant. Regardless of that though, Google’s potential to increase electronic coupon adoption could have farther reaching green effects than just connecting consumers with sweet deals.

Companies and consumers are perpetually in an economic dance where companies want to charge the highest plausible price while still conveying real or perceived value, and consumers look for high quality at low prices. Coupons (and to a greater extent rebates) have always played the role of temptation because they offer excellent deals with a catch: the buyer must traditionally remember a paper voucher or a set of mail-in rules.

Groupon, and other businesses like it, are changing the rules a bit because they introduce dynamite deals on a regular basis that can be redeemed electronically. Those deals are possible because merchants are hoping to drive new customer business through temporary steep discounts. Groupon is making money while doing it too, to the tune of $1 million or more per week in pure profit according to TechCrunch. That profit and the potential for lots more is likely what’s driving the rumor mongering about Google considering an acquisition.

But what about the potential for impacting the environment positively? A lot of coupons are issued every year and that means lots of potential for reducing waste. “more than 3,000 companies issue over 300 billion coupons each year worth an estimated $280 billion.  About 8 billion of these coupons are redeemed saving shoppers almost $5 billion each year on their grocery bills,” according to Neighborhood Link.

The beauty here is that if Google were to acquire Groupon and integrate it with systems like Gmail and its ubiquitous search, the number of coupons issued could increase while the number printed could decrease. Even a marginal difference would create a huge benefit. Tight integration with mobile devices would be a critical last step in the delivery process, but that happens to be a specialty for Google.