26 Nov Is Black Friday all that?
I am currently knee deep in Black Friday offers. The emails keep coming, one after another, offering all sorts of discounts and deals. It is hard to cut through the noise but for anyone looking for some objective information, both Wired and Which have guides to the best options and whether this really is a great deal or whether the headline belies the fact that the offer is not as good as all that.
Keeping a perspective
It is probably harder this year to resist the Black Friday deals. Stuck inside, either furloughed or working from home, these constant email interruptions act like an alarm going off in an already distracted brain. Our lives are already bombarded with information – yesterday, for example, I knew of the death of global football icon Maradona as soon as it was announced. The consequence is a lack of context with which to assess news. Say what you like about the world I grew up in, but the news was something that you were told at 6pm and 9pm, not constantly. It will take time for humans to evolve fully to living with being bombarded with constant information.
The Black Friday offers also provide an instant satisfaction. Deep in our DNA, the idea of receiving something is associated with reward. Just as the ancient hunter got a kick out of killing an animal because he would stay alive and feed his family, so we get a dose of dopamine every time we reach for the PayPal button.
Online deals make that easier to do than ever. I consider myself cynical towards the whole Black Friday phenomenon, yet at times, cooped up working from home and with distractions constantly arriving, I have found myself hovering over the buy button before thinking better of it.
Is there a better way?
Black Friday has always made sense in the US thanks to the huge shopping spree people tend to go on the day after Thanksgiving. Rather like the Boxing Day sales in the UK, retailers need something to get the tills ringing again. But I doubt the obligation to run an offer makes sense for a lot of smaller and independent dealers.
Last year we came up with a creative idea for our client Planet Computers to use as an alternative. Considering Amazon’s Prime sales days (which, don’t forget were little over one month ago) we creating the Planet Amazin’ day – on the day after Amazon Prime day. It proved to be one of the most successful promotions the company has done – so much so that we repeated it this year. Again, it offered great deals at a time when nobody else was – and offered a quirky take from a smaller company on a retail giant’s activities.
Now I will be the first to admit that Planet is also offering Black Friday deals, but the Planet Amazin’ day has become part of the company’s brand – representing how a smaller brand with a loyal fanbase can do something different to stand out from the crowd.