Follow the Money

Someone Made A Groupon Just For Rich Kids

Coupons for people who don't need coupons.

screen shot 2012 04 19 at 4 42 25 pm Someone Made A Groupon Just For Rich KidsIt is a truth universally acknowledged that those least in need of a leg up are most likely to receive it. Into that aphorism rolls Merchant Exchange, a new “luxury rewards network” based in New York targeting a subset cofounder Michael Tolkin likes to call “wealthy millenials.”

By Mr. Tolkin’s definition, that means New Yorkers 25-t0-35 who spend between $$30,000 and $40,000 annually, which we imagine refers to disposable income.

“They have money to spend and want to be discerning,” Mr. Tolkin tells Business Insider. “They’re educated and busy; they’re not coupon-clipping.” Presumably they’re also not whipping out their coupon shears because it’s 2012, but who are we to quibble with a noble benefactor of today’s youth-ish.

Membership is free once you make it past the waitlist. After that users sign-up for the brands they like from a menu of choices. Merchant Exchange (they could have used a naming lesson from Gilt Groupe) has already lined up 65 vendors including Dos Caminos, Lacoste, Longchamp, Leading Hotels of the World, and Starbucks to offer these lucky few discounts, free gifts, and “red carpet movie premiere passes.” Starbucks sounded rather downmarket to us, until we harkened back to the summer of ’07.

Mr. Tolkin insists that discretion is key with this crowd, telling Business Insider, “It’s like Facebook brand pages without the social. These deals won’t necessarily be broadcast to your friends.” Eventually, however, Merchant Exchange plans to expand outside New York and down the income bracket.

In truth, it sounds more like a company hoping to benefit from an air of exclusivity than a truly luxury service. But surely there must be some kind patrons out there, willing to offer this demo a little something special. Like, say, their very own TV show?

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com