(update: even 5 year olds are getting into the act. Friday I was at Best Buy and overheard the following, “But Daddy, it’s Black Friday… Pleeeeeeeease get it for me before the price goes up!”)
Friends and readers: I hope you all had a happy and safe Thanksgiving. I also hope you had a great Black Friday and a killer Cyber Monday despite our current economic circumstances.
I seem to remember not too long ago when Black Friday was just a retail industry term for the one day of the year that could change a company’s P&L from red to black. Somehow the term has crept into our national lexicon and collective psyche. As I went through my e-mails on Thanksgiving morning, I had at couple of dozen sale-oriented e-mails pitching Black Friday sales. Some referenced Black Friday right in the subject line, just so I would know that somethingmore than special would be offered that day. I even got a Black Friday offer from a car dealership.
It certainly seems to me that the media turned this day into the biggest shopping event of the year — just like Presidents Day, Valentine’s Day and other major shopping days. Thanks to the Internet, we also have its sister event, Cyber Monday. Now we have even more competition, as shopping events become clashes worthy of sibling rivalry (or an opportunity for marketing channels to be in sync).
I chose to write this on Friday morning, Nov. 28, after Thanksgiving dinner, feeling mostly recovered from the sleep-inducing agent in my turkey. Others in my family were getting ready to shop, too. My wife was going to hit the mall extra early to beat the traffic, hopefully the crowds too, while scoring the best gifts at a discount. She’ll likely turn Black Friday into an all-day marathon, going in to many stores and spending as much time as possible perusing each rack, end cap and item until she has fully scratched the internal itch that will not let her miss one perfect fit for someone on her shopping list.
As for me, if I never set foot in a mall or retail store again, I’ll be happy. And even when I do go retail, I go with a goal in mind — find it, buy it and get out before some overzealous clerk sprays me with cologne!
Instead, I’ll spend time in the other marketing channels. I’ll shop catalog and Internet, and if I have questions, I’ll pick up a phone and call a toll-free number to clarify. The only exception I may make is for an item-return. To return an item, I may actually drop it off at a retail store, rather than send it back via the mail. I find this easier somehow.
And NO, this isn’t a sexist thing — as in man vs. woman. It’s purely about preference. Some people desire the tactile experience of seeing, feeling and touching. Some don’t. In my younger days, I actually enjoyed the mall shopping experience, but now I don’t. Simple as that.
Points to consider
So why am I telling you this? There’s a moral to my story and it’s quite simple. Know your customers and their shopping patterns. Satisfy their needs in any channel they choose. Also know that shopping preferences change over time. Today’s retail customer may be tomorrow’s Internet shopper and vice versa.
Speak to you next week.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing Inc., a full-service catalog and direct marketing agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at http://www.linkedin.com/in/jimwgilbert , or you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.