A corporate strategy article by Thunderbird students.
In 1887, Mr. Asa Candler was faced with a distribution dilemma.  The Atlanta druggist had spent $2,500 on a formula for a sweet-tasting drink and was looking for a way to promote the sale of this little-known beverage named Coca-Cola.  His solution: handwritten tickets offering customers a free sample. To Mr. Candler’s surprise, the offer was a huge success. So was born the coupon. By 1913, an estimated 11% or roughly 8.5 million Americans had received a free coke.  One could argue that Mr. Candler’s invention of the coupon is the reason Coca-Cola started on its path to becoming one of the most iconic global brands - ever.
Fast forward to 2008, when an internet start up based in Chicago, IL created one of the largest shake ups in the marketing world since Mr. Candler’s first hand written ticket; that company - Groupon. The novelty of Groupon was this: through the power of the internet, select “daily deal” coupons could be offered and if a big enough “group” agreed to purchase the deal, then the deal would become valid.  The program was used by participating companies as a way to reduce the risk of losses, increase customer traffic, and drive promotions. Now four years since its launch, the Groupon business model has come under attack and faces many strategic obstacles, including competition from lookalike websites.