After the negative press around Livingsocial and Groupon in the past few days in the USA it is a welcome change to write about an new daily deal site being launched by a very prominent player, albeit in China.
This week Baidu, China’s top search engine, launched their new service quietly and appears to be testing the market in Beijing. It can be found at t.baidu.com. This new site actually offers daily deals unlike its existing sister site at tuan.baidu.com, offering services as a daily deal aggregator.
The new Baidu 'Group Buying‘ site currently only offers daily deals in Beijing with only 10 live deals today and seems to be a beta release. The emphasis appears to be on food and beverages, beauty, leisure, hotels and travel and lifestyle services. Baidu is known for being somewhat careful when launching new services before committing to a full blown launch.
It is pretty late for Baidu to be entering a crowded daily deals market in China and even with the backing of its giant search engine parent, it will be difficult to penetrate a market where the current top 10 daily deal sites account for 90% of the market with the remaining 2500 daily deal sites in China sharing the rest. For Baidu to break into the elite league of daily deal sites in China it will have to produce a turnover at least US$ 300 million per month.
Alibaba’s Juhuasuan dominates the deal industry with 47.8 percent market share, with Meituan second (13.1 percent), and Dianping third (8.6 percent). Groupon’s China site, Gaopeng languishes in ninth place.
It is a risky bet by Baidu, but similar to Google in the US, it has the userbase, size and technology to make it work.