With group buying moving mainstream – with on the one hand popular purveyors of local deals such as Groupon and LivingSocial, and on the other, private flash-sale clubs, such as Gilt and Ideeli – we’re seeing the emergence of a new breed of group-buy sites focusing on narrow “verticals” – i.e. niche categories.

One such start-up that caught our eye is Poggled, a Groupon-esque deal site for bars and clubs offering negotiated drink deals. It’s the brain-child of Chicago-based Joe Matthews and Sean Strother, and built by Killswitch, and it currently caters to the Windy City, but with plans to expand.

What’s interesting about Poggled is not how it works – it’s the familiar Groupon-style formula, you subscribe to receive email deal alerts (or follow the Poggled deal feed on Twitter or Facebook), and when you find a deal you like (no active pricing or minimum orders (yet)), you can register as a new member and purchase your chosen voucher to get VIP access and get the voucher redeemed at your chosen bar or club.

What is interesting about Poggled, or rather the Poggled concept, is the vertical it’s targeting; a Poggled-type business could have the potential to become very attractive to spirit and beer brands who could sponsor deals – and thus open up a second lucrative revenue stream for Poggled’s owners.

Drinks companies such as Diegeo, Bacardi, and AB InBev constantly run promotions in top bars and clubs – and Poggled could be a useful addition to their promotional mix.  Not for the revenue generated by Poggled promotions, but for the conversational [buzz] value they would provide for trade marketers in the field getting brands listed, organizing promotions, negotiating shelf position etc.

We’re reminded of the oft’ cited award-winning 2006 blog marketing campaign for the $10 cult wine Stormhoek, managed by celebrity cartoonist and author Hugh MacLeod.  The campaign involved sending any blogger who asked (if they were of legal drinking age) a bottle of the then unknown wine.  Whilst not obliged to do so, many bloggers posted comments on their blog.  This was followed up by 100 Stormhoek sponsored blogger meet-ups, and a series of contact-card cartoons posted on MacLeod’s blog. The result; sales sextrupled from 50,000 cases a year worldwide to almost 300,000.

What’s interesting is MacLeod’s take on the success – that the campaign didn’t work because it created buzz for the wine amongst bloggers and their readers; thousands of people didn’t suddenly rush to stores on hearing bloggers comments.  What did happen though was that the innovative campaign gave trade marketers something interesting to talk about when seeking to get Stormhoek listed.  The campaign was a point of conversation and difference in a highly competitive trade marketing market.

This, we think, is the true value of Poggled, or the inevitable copycat versions of the business that will appear. Forget consumer marketing; for brands, the value of Poggled lies in it’s potential to become a trade marketer’s dream.  Take my drink and we’ll throw in a Poggled promotion.  If we were Poggled’s owners we’d be looking to grow Poggled by developing it into a self-serve marketing promotions platform and Facebook marketing app for spirit and beer brands.