Groupon rebrands, repositions in India

Groupon acquired Indian deals site SoSasta.com in January

Less than a year after it acquired popular Indian shopping deals site SoSasta.com, Groupon is changing the name of the site to Crazeal.com, and plans to focus on deals from premium merchants in each category.

The SoSasta name, which is derived from the Sanskrit word Sasta for "cheap", did not find favor with users in the south of India where Sanskrit is not particularly popular, said Ankur Warikoo, CEO of Crazeal.com.

Groupon did not acquire SoSasta so much for the brand but to get access to a running enterprise and a management team, Warikoo said. "We had decided very early on to rebrand," he added.

The SoSasta name was not favored either by many high-quality merchants that felt that it wasn't good for their brand to be associated with a deals site that focused on being cheap alone, Warikoo added.

A source who discussed the decision over a month ago, on condition of anonymity, said that the SoSasta vernacular name was also not seen as trendy enough for the large number of upmarket sellers including five-star hotels and travel companies that Groupon hopes to attract in India.

The company would have liked to change the name of its deals site in India to Groupon, but the domain name groupon.in is currently held by an Indian owner, and the dispute is before an Indian court, Warikoo said. But in a few months, it really won't make a difference if Crazeal.com offers interesting deals to customers, he added.

The market for deals in India is growing but very competitive. In June, 4.6 million Internet users in India, aged 15 and older, accessed coupon sites from a home or work location, representing 10 percent of the online population, according to comScore. The largest player, Snapdeal.com, had 1.5 million unique visitors, while SoSasta at number four had 586,000 visitors in that month, comScore said.

Warikoo said SoSasta did better when measured by business activity, which saw 40 percent growth month-on-month in the last five months.

In a bid to differentiate itself from the commodity business in a crowded market, Groupon is focusing on top quality brands and services in India. In travel, it will, for example, move away from ticketing to comprehensive travel packages. The emphasis on top quality brands is in line with Groupon's strategy worldwide, Warikoo said.

Crazeal, unlike SoSasta, will be integrated with the more robust Groupon global technology platform. In June, the user database of SoSasta, was found by an Australian security consultant, Daniel Grzelak to have been published on the Internet and indexed by Google.

SoSasta said that customers' financial information, such as credit card and debit card information, had not been compromised, as that was not stored on SoSasta's servers by law.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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Tags Internet-based applications and servicesSoSasta.comCrazeal.comGrouponinternet

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