June 27, 2011, 2:03 PM

LivingSocial stretches its deals across the globe

The daily deal site establishes footholds in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

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LivingSocial today said it has acquired daily deal sites in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The online discount provider also has launched a site in the Netherlands. The moves give LivingSocial a presence in 21 countries.

LivingSocial acquired Ensogo, which has more than 800,000 members across the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia. It also bought GoNabit, which operates in Egypt, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates and Jordan. LivingSocial did not say how much it paid for the companies.

LivingSocial’s global expansion plan focuses on building strong relationships with local sales teams that understand their markets, says Jake Maas, senior vice president, corporate and business development. “It’s not about being first to market, it’s about being best to market,” he says, tweaking rival Groupon, which already offers deals in at least 45 countries. “We’re exclusively focused on winning in the local commerce space. That involves a combination of executing well in the short term but also having a long-term vision for the space that allows for creativity and innovation.”

The daily deal space is rapidly changing, he says. For instance, in the past year LivingSocial has launched LivingSocial Families, which focuses on family-friendly activities, LivingSocial Escapes, a travel site that sells vacation packages, and Instant Deals, a new feature within in its mobile app that enables users to search for deals within a half-mile radius of their current locations.

“We’re still in the early days of this space and the way the space looks today and the way it will look two years from now are going to be very different,” says Maas. “That’s why we place a premium on hiring employees and partnering with teams that are creative and innovative. Driving change and evolution will be the key to being successful in the space.”

Meanwhile, market leader Groupon has filed for an initial public offering as large companies such as Facebook and Google prepare to offer their own online discounts. However, LivingSocial has established a niche among educated, affluent consumers, according to a recent report from the Nielsen Co. The report found that visitors to LivingSocial are 49% more likely than the average Internet consumer to earn $150,000 or more annually, compared to 30% more likely for Groupon’s visitors. LivingSocial’s audience also is more educated than Groupon’s, with 46% having a college degree, compared with 39% for Groupon, Nielsen says. The national average for all web users is 25%.

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