Last month, LesParrains.fr launched an English version under the name RefAround. For those unfamiliar, the already existing service in France matches up users in order to maximize the referral field in online purchases. The site launched in the US with referral deals from DirectTV, Verizon Wireles, Alaska Airlines, and 80 other referrals.
The site has been successful in France since its creation in 2006 – in fact, it helped its users save roughly $1.3 million in 2011. The free service is now hoping to attract “America’s savvy shoppers” in order to help make their dollar go further. CEO Nicolas Davoust added:
“With the European economic crisis, French shoppers are looking for new ways to make their money last. In the past year, with 100,000 monthly visitors and more than 1200 active referral offers, we have had incredible success on lesParrains.fr. We are confident that American shoppers will discover the same benefit, and they will save even more in 2012.”
Befriending big business
I sat down with Nicolas to talk about his success in France and his hopes in his expansion. My first concern was that by making these referrals available to complete strangers, which are generally meant to be rewards for word-of-mouth marketing, that LesParrains would be upsetting business; however, Nicolas told me since LesParrain’s founding in 2006, they have only ever been asked to remove an offer once – and that was because the offer had expired and too many customers were complaining about having seen it on his site.
To the contrary, Nicolas said, most services that offer referral rewards in France will now let them know in advance which offers they will be offering soon – they view it as another marketing channel.
Adaptable to the US?
While it seems that RefAround has no direct competition, that isn’t to say that there is no market for saving money. These types of websites tend to pop up and disappear, and establishing credibility with Americans will be key.
The big question will be – is this something that Americans will adopt as well? We certainly are the penny-pinching type, so I look forward to seeing what RefAround can do!