Planting the “mob” in flash mob.

From the Springwise newsletter:

A fun example of consumers aggregating their intended purchases to get a bargain is tuangou, or team buying, which involves strangers organizing themselves around a specific product or service. Think electronics, home furnishings, cars and so on. These likeminded consumers then meet up in real-world shops and showrooms at a coordinated date and time, literally mobbing the seller and negotiating a group discount on the spot.

Good grief, fun? This is frightening as a concept and extortion as an execution at best. And let’s not forget the violence, perceived or otherwise, that a large group imposes just by the sheer nature of its size.

According to Springwise, suppliers love the concept and for now they’re involved in the process by encouraging shopmobbers to choose their store over a competitor’s via the team buying web site – the central vehicle by which strangers seek out like-minded bargain hunters and plan their siege.

So everything is under control – for now.

Wait until shopmobbers get a little too zealous and push too far … Imagine what would happen if the shopkeeper were not alerted? Nope, this just doesn’t sit well with me. And armageddon aside, let’s be practical – will suppliers be forced to raise their regular retail prices to account for the discounts given to team buyers?

“Mob law is the most forcible expression of an abnormal public opinion; it shows that society is rotten to the core.”* Timothy Thomas Fortune

* This excludes Zombie flash mobs, of course. {wink, wink}

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