People Love to Buy — Especially on Black Friday!

Black Friday at North Point Mall

People love to buy!

They don’t like to be sold… but they love to buy!

Black Friday is the one time of the year that you see the love of shopping come out in full force. But are marketer’s changing consumer’s behaviors by forcefully taking advantage of the holiday season?

Who invented the term Black Friday?

Black Friday Discounts at North Point MallOriginally taken from the stock market crash, Black Friday became a term that described the gridlock in Philadelphia that occurred the day before the Army-Navy football game as holiday shoppers and football fans descended upon the city.

In 1961, Philadelphia retailers who were afraid the term “Black Friday” would scare shoppers off, colluded to invent a new, more attractive term, “Big Friday!” to represent the official start of the holiday shopping season.

The label “Big Friday” didn’t last long, but the idea behind it did. Later, marketer’s noticed that most retailers finances run at a loss all year, but as the holiday shopping season begins the retailer’s profits move into the black. Then trade journals ran stories about preparing for the holidays and “Black Friday,” which cemented it into our collective consciousness and a marketing institution was born.

Black Friday and Friends

Black Friday DiscountsAs the official start of the holiday shopping season, retailers seek to out do each other for our attention on Black Friday. They entice us with irresistible offers that whip us into a frenzy as the human pack instinct takes over.

It works so well for the retailers they will test many different variables of their business such as offers, purchase options, and hours of operation. Recently, marketers have begun to add shopping days and apply creative labels.

So in addition to Black Friday which is the day after Thanksgiving, we have the last Sunday before Thanksgiving, now called Blue Sunday; We have the first Monday after Thanksgiving called Cyber Monday; and we have a brand new term being floated by QVC: ThanksGifting.

If you pay attention to the media, it would appear that Black Friday and friends are day long shopping frenzies in which money is mindlessly spent on unnecessary products purchased at bargain prices.

Black Friday, Blue Sunday, Cyber Monday and the like are rife with Blatant Basic Marketing Appeals, but we typically eat it up because we love to buy!

It was true in 2006 anyway. What’s it looking like in 2013?

Black Friday – The Results Are In

Black Friday Discounts at the Body ShopEvery year it seems that retail marketers meet with each other and decide what they are going to test this year. They started the store hours trend in 2012 by opening at 4am, 5am, or 6am on Black Friday. In 2013, most major stores including Walmart, Target, Sears, Macy’s, Old Navy, and more opened on Thanksgiving evening at 8pm and stayed open until closing time Friday night.

Shelly and I went to North Point Mall on Friday afternoon. As I half-expected, there wasn’t crowds of people standing in lines. It was actually much more like a typical weekend. It didn’t seem that stores were getting the droves of people they were expecting. Still I couldn’t be sure that there weren’t lines of people standing at the front door at 8pm the previous night who were shopped out by the next afternoon.

In an article from Reuters reporter Ian Simpson, research firm ShopperTrak estimated 2013 retail sales at brick and mortar stores increased 2.3 percent over 2012 for Thanksgiving and Black Friday, with most of the sales occurring on Thanksgiving evening.

Incredibly, Adobe Systems Inc, using data from the users of their marketing analytics software, showed an 18 percent increase in online sales on Thanksgiving and a 39 percent increase on Friday.

It seems that the American public is increasingly moving online for their holiday shopping. Even though I don’t have Cyber Monday’s data yet, it seems that online shopping is consumers first choice, even though retailers used deep discounts, promotions and extended store hours to draw consumers in.

Looking Forward to the 2014 Holiday Shopping Season

Black Friday Discounts for Gen Y SkatersEach year marketers attempt to engage mass market consumers to increase revenues and put their companies revenue in the black.

While they must test offers, discounts, services, store hours, bonuses, and more, it seems to push customers away. Consumers crave new things. New experiences, products, services, sights, and sounds. All this testing, even though it’s different each year, is actually beginning to feel like the 21st time you watched Frosty the Snowman: it’s stale.

Something special is going to have to happen next year. However, that takes courage. Most likely retailers will choose to be open all day on Thanksgiving, which will cause some negative media coverage – and increase sales again.

While we won’t always know what will make consumers respond, we do know that for some reason they will respond to fanfare. As long as the media reports on Black Friday and Retailers advertise Black Friday deals, consumers will keep buying.

That said, consumer behavior is changing and businesses have to continually adapt to survive. What does seem certain is the continued movement to the Internet as the shopping medium of choice.

About Michael Miller

Michael Miller is the owner of Mindwhirl.com, a sales and marketing coaching and training company in Atlanta, Georgia.

Michael’s mission is helping small business owners understand, and organize their marketing so they can make money and grow.

Mindwhirl helps business owners plan and implement effective, profitable marketing campaigns and sales programs.

If you need more sales, we know how to get leads and grow businesses. Call us today at (404) 858-3105, or email me at mmiller@mindwhirl.com.

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