The day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, is more than just a crazy shopping day. It is the time set by economists to predict our financial future as a nation and the consumer’s trust in the future. In recent years, Black Friday sales have gained new importance as big data collectors dig into the rapidly changing minutia that is customer behavior. Even without flexing a degree in statistics, there are some 2014 trends that are already standing out.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, 53 percent of retailers will be running sales and advertorial marketing as early as September. Last year, this number was only 35 percent. The Wal-Mart Black Friday masthead on its webpage has been running for months, telling people to return on November 28 for deals. Not only can we expect sales to start early in the year, the actual sales day will be longer. We have seen this slowly extending itself over the years with stores opening on Thanksgiving Day. This year we will see blocks of days with stores running 24 hours.
Black Friday now has competition for the biggest shopping day of the year. Over the last few years, Cyber Monday, which is the first Monday after Thanksgiving, has risen to challenge Black Friday. This year, it may overtake the day as the number-one retail event. As the name indicates, Cyber Monday is the Internet-based equivalent of Black Friday.Retailers will be pumping big bucks into Internet sales and advertising. This is also a format where the smaller retailer can play with the big boys by combining efforts on sites like Etsy and BigCartel.
Following the omni-channel marketing trends, the way we buy is as important as what we buy. Having both a storefront and an online store can be a waste. In some cases, you can find your brick-and-mortar store competing with your online store, and sometimes resulting in the loss of both sales. One of the new trends this shopping season is having in-store electronic kiosks so that a customer can see the product in real life but purchase it online. This is a win-win. The consumer gets all of the benefits of online shopping, including free shipping, and the vendor gets to be browsed but not lose the sales to time or extended web searches.
Shopping for Doers
We are seeing a shift in shopping behaviors. People are recognizing that experiential purchases, or buying things to do, lead to greater happiness than material purchases. This is one of the reasons for the success of outlets like Groupon and LivingSocial that offer discounted prices on things like horseback riding, restaurant experiences and couples massages. These types of presents are great for active friends or family, and perfect for those who are hard to shop for.
Of course, when looking for the newest trends in sales, social media cannot be ignored. Electronic word-of-mouth marketing is proving to be the new driving force in sales. People trust online reviews on social networks more than any other medium. Sites like BlackFriday.com share all the sales for the day, as well as store hours. Also, look toward Facebook and Pinterest to be flooded with product communities and posts.
About the Author: Lee Reyes-Fournier is a psychotherapist with 25 years of experience. She is the award-winning co-author of CoupleDumb.com, which is ranked within the top 1% of all relationship sites. She also co-wrote the book “Dysaffirmations” and is co-host of “Relationship Rehab,” a relationship web series – Science!!