I hate Black Friday. Aside from my aversion to maniacal crowds and teeming masses of claustrophobic frenzy, here’s why: it’s just bad marketing.
Actually, I don’t see the marketing at all; what I see is simply a race to the bottom. In order to entice people into their stores–Pick me! Pick me!–retailers compete to offer the best deals (read: lowest prices) and the craziest shopping hours. Their argument for deep discounts is that once people come inside the store, they’ll buy other, more profitable, things too. Maybe so, but could we really just be robbing Peter to pay Paul? If people couldn’t shove their way through the doors at zero-dark-thirty, wouldn’t they just come another time? I mean, people still have lists to fill, regardless of what day they choose to shop, right?
Anyway, I digress. My theme is really the lack of creativity in the Black Friday marketing scheme. Every retailer follows the same path: low prices, long hours. Where’s the creative genius in that? It reminds me of Hollywood’s current cinematic output; I haven’t seen an original plot for years. Theaters are filled with sequels, remakes, books-made-into-movies, old-time comic heroes. Seriously, whatever happened to generating interest through new and different content?
Forget the gimmicks, I want to be drawn in because someone has something to offer that I can’t get anywhere else. Or presents it in a way that I find irresistible. Or with a level of service that I won’t forgo for a lower price anywhere.
A former boss and mentor taught me two things. First, there will always be someone with a lower price. Second, once you cut the price, it becomes nearly impossible to raise it back to its “normal” level. He also taught me that our products were worth something; they carried a lot of value. The key to success was being able to communicate why they were worth something in a way that made sense to our customers. Anyone can lower a price. Not everyone knows how to communicate, to market.
As a consumer, I definitely appreciate good bargains. I haven’t found one yet, though, that compels me to stay up all night, brave hordes of frenzied shoppers, and wait in long lines. My time and comfort are worth more than a few dollars off. Give me a reason–a real reason–and then I might venture out.