Friday, 4 December 2015

Black Friday and Cyber Monday: A Marketer’s Perspective

Black Friday is an annual tradition observed in the United States on the day following Thanksgiving. This day officially marks the beginning of the shopping season and sees retailers slashing prices and offering “special deals” to customers. Cyber Monday occurs on the first Monday after Thanksgiving and was first coined in 2005 to encourage shoppers to purchase online. Since then it has become the busiest online shopping day for many countries around the world.


In recent years these flash sales have seen shoppers spending increasing amounts in a feverish attempt to snap up the very best bargains on offer. This often results in chaos, crashed websites and unfortunately, even tragedy. However, more than 13 billion dollars was spent in the US between the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. The growing trend in recent years has seen increased spending online rather than physical in-store sales.

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales that originated in the United States have in recent years spread to the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Portugal, Germany, Colombia and Japan. While not as commonplace just yet, Australian retailers have begun to embrace the tradition and jump on the Black Friday bandwagon. An estimated $329 million has been spent this year, which is almost double the previous years spending.

So is this all simply just hype? Or a clever “marketing” term to create artificial demand. Consumers these days are more perceptive than ever and are easily able to spot a bad deal from a good one with online comparison tools. With the rise of social media, consumers can easily spread that message loud and clear if they feel they are being mislead. One of the most interesting developments I have seen this year has come from companies shunning the tradition and declaring themselves against these flash sales. In fact, in the UK retailers such as Jeep, Aldi and John Lewis have used this stand as a marketing tool to promote their own on-going price reductions.


One thing is however undeniable, Black Friday and Cyber Monday represent a fantastic opportunity for companies to sell products before the busy Christmas period and is somewhat of a marketers dream. For retailers, this is a time to send emails fearlessly to their databases offing smart discounts and activating their top customers. It also offers a chance to be active on social media and engage with customers through clever ads.

Mobile devices are making this instant flash sales shopping even easier for consumers with “shopping on the go”. In 2014, more than 60% of Amazon's US customers purchased using a mobile devise. The increased ability to shop online has made it significantly easier for shoppers to search for and stay connected to the deals that they are most interested in.

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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