The Wall Street Journal wrote last February (note: subscription only) about tuangou 团购 (literally, team buying) websites, where as in MeetUp.com, strangers arrange to organize themselves around a common interest. But for tuangou, it’s all about shopping, aggregating enough people to be able to get a discount or better terms on everything from cars to home remodelling materials to real estate. Sam Flemming posted about it here, mentioning that he got a great discount on a television through a Shanghai tuangou site.
WuYo/51tuangou is one of the more popular tuangou sites. WuYo acts as a broker for ad hoc buying teams, organizing visits to retailers and getting from between 2-5% discounts on specific products at specific stores. For instance, this sofa set is being offered to WuYo members at a 3% discount and can be reserved online.
On the Hefei Tuangou Web you can find a BBS forum that lists the various times and places that groups will be meeting–or in some cases, would like to meet if they can get enough interest.
Wangqun Tuangou has the best photos of their buying sprees, such as this trip to a Dazhong Electronics branch store in Beijing on Nov. 26, where over 1000 people bought over $200,000 worth of electronics equipment in a single afternoon. Pretty wild stuff!