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Rachel Ryan Headshot

What LivingSocial and Groupon Show Us About Sex And Shopping

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Women shop. Men generally don't like to shop. Men stand and hold the bags, sigh intermittently, and stumble awkwardly into questions about whether or not "those pants" make the woman in question look "fat." What gets a man into a store? "Mainly, women, sports, food, and free things," says Jared, a 25-year-old certifiable dude.

While females, football, and food are certainly enticing, there is no single word or concept more powerful than "free" in the marketing and sales industry. Offer a man or woman just about anything marginally to very valuable at a discount and chances are, they'll gobble it up like it's going out of style.

Companies like Groupon and LivingSocial have exploded onto the scene in recent years after tapping into this all too human disposition towards all things "free." The group buying and package deals industry is dominated by these two companies. They offer awesome deals at half the price, if not more. This month, I, along with the rest of America, spent $10 on a LivingSocial deal for $20 worth of anything at Whole Foods. "It's basically just free food," claimed a LivingSocial employee, "why not buy it?"

Google first tried to buy Groupon for $6 billion. Groupon said no. Then Google tried to grab a seat at the table and is failing miserably. Facebook also tried their hand at offering package deals. That lasted four months.

Groupon and LivingSocial remain and continue to boom. Interestingly enough, despite their success at offering everything from discounted gym memberships to half-off vacation packages that both men and women find appealing, women dominate the site: 64 percent of LivingSocial's clientele are female.

When asked why women dominate a site that promotes such a gender neutral concept of free stuff, a LivingSocial sales representative responded, "Women control their men's social lives and do most of the buying. They're more likely to do preplanned things. And, in general, girls are better at deals and shopping." Sound like a couple of sweeping statements? Well, as a woman, I agree.

When was the last time your husband or boyfriend or guy friend planned any type of party or dinner or simple night out? But more to the point, "over the next decade, women will control two thirds of consumer wealth in the United States and be the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in our country's history," says Claire Behar, Senior Partner and Director of New Business Development at Fleishman-Hillard.

This isn't gender stereotyping. This is economics. From the auto to the health care industry, "women account for 85 per cent of all consumer purchases" The economic power of women to fuel and fund sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, not to mention the global economy, cannot be ignored.