In an announcement that seems only fitting for World Poetry Day, Groupon recently previewed its new mobile app, in which it has distilled all of humanity's needs and desires down to two essential emotions: "I'm hungry" and "I'm bored." Either, the company suggests, can best be cured by immediate consumption.
Launching in April, Groupon Now is a smartphone app that presents users with just two buttons: one says "I'm hungry," and the other, "I'm bored" Clicking either will open up a list of time-specific dining or shopping daily deals, based on your location.
Business analysts view this as "an ambitious plan that will change how and when we eat," as well as a godsend for restaurants and stores with perishable stock. Groupon's CEO Andrew Mason used a slightly obscure dental analogy to explain its evident appeal:
For merchants, the daily deal is like teeth whitening, and Groupon Now is like brushing your teeth. It can be an everyday thing to keep your business going.
Commercial oral hygiene aside, though, the new app, coming hot on the heals of the company's controversial Super Bowl ads, only reinforces my suspicion that Groupon has a low opinion of the American people. Forget feeling inspired, angry, nostalgic, curious, or anxious; forget doing or creating something based on those emotions. What you actually are is bored or hungry, and what you really need is 50 percent off frozen yogurt or $25 for two pieces of celebrity-designed, 10-carat, real gold jewelery.
No doubt this app will be useful for merchants and would-be consumers alike. No doubt the hungry-or-bored dichotomy it presents is compatible with a certain brand-appropriate tongue-in-cheek cynicism. But Groupon Now's blatant encouragement of self-affirmation through a binary shopping-oriented lens strikes me as particularly depressing. Join the herd, sheep people!