Groupon launches Malaysian site, eyes China next

Group buying website Groupon has launched its Malaysian service, the latest in its growing expansion throughout Asia.

Groupon Malaysia was launched by acquiring a Malaysian group buying service called GroupsMore for an undisclosed amount, marking a similar approach the company took to acquisition-based expansions in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Taiwan.

It was only last month that Groupon expanded to these countries, so clearly it’s not finished with its move into the Asian market. In fact, it does not yet have a Chinese service, but it’s deep in talks with Chinese ISP Tencent on co-branding a group buying service there.

GroupsMore is one of many similar sites in Malaysia, servicing the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. It was launched in September 2010 and has grown to over 50,000 users in this short period. This figure is likely to spike under the Groupon name.

The group buying business is big in Asia, with the Chinese market alone growing from 0 to 1,200 competing group buying sites over the past year alone. Even the popular Baidu search engine, which rules the search market in China, launched a group buying service in China last month, and let’s not forget Google’s attempts to buy Groupon and its eventual decision to launch its own service when Groupon refused to sell.

The group buying phenomenon is called Tuangou in China, which is based on an older style of bargaining that has been used in mainlaind China for years, where groups of people secure lower prices at local stores by bulk buying. Groupon and its competitors are basically just an online variation of this same approach.

Giving that this form of bargaining was effectively created in the local markets in Asia, it’s no surprise that so many online versions are popping up. Groupon has over 50 million subscribers in 40 countries and 4,000 employees around the world, making it a perfect competitor for the lucrative Asian market.