The Evolution of Black Friday for Marketers, Advertisers, and Consumers

Thanks to the evolution of technology, online shopping and the decline of brick and mortar stores, Black Friday has lost its glory. Advertising has had to shift to fit the multifaceted consumer. 

By Guest Blogger: Cortney Jones

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In the early 2000s, Black Friday was like a second holiday after Thanksgiving. We went to bed early and woke up at 4 AM to make sure we could be there when the stores opened for all the wonderful sales. However, in recent years, things have changed. Black Friday does not have the same ring to it and we’re not the first to notice. 

Historically, retailers have welcomed shoppers during Black Friday. The Friday after Thanksgiving was when sales went “in the black” after being red all year. But thanks to the evolution of technology, online shopping and the decline of brick and mortar stores, Black Friday has lost its glory. 

A recent survey by SurveyMonkey suggests that 44% of adults strongly dislike Black Friday. Consumers are wary of overcrowding, stress and the complete chaos that ensues over the discounted products. Many don’t like that the shopping takes away from time with family. After many news reports of violence and long waits, retailers have had to come up with more ways for consumers to spend their dollars without losing the more joyful “Black Friday” feeling. Advertising has had to shift to fit the multifaceted consumer. 

“Black Friday” now begins on Thursday

Instead of waiting until 5 AM on Friday morning, stores have now opted to open on Thanksgiving day and advertise doorbusters. When stores first introduced this, some weren’t happy. Stores opened at 8 PM Thanksgiving night. But then, the more people came to shop each year, the earlier the stores opened. This year, some stores are open on Thanksgiving all day. Retailers know that not everyone is tied up with family on Thanksgiving. If they can advertise a free Instant Pot or television to get those consumers in the store by 2 PM, they will. 

Cyber Monday is a hit

In 2005, Cyber Monday was coined because retailers recognized people would rather shop from the comfort of their homes than brave the in-store chaos. In turn, online sales are heavily advertised. Stores tend to save some of their better deals for Cyber Monday as well as offer special sales for those who shop their sites only on Thanksgiving Day. These online-only sales are for those consumers who want to shop the Black Friday deals without leaving home. For retailers like Toys-R-Us, who had to close stores recently, online sales can make or break their business. Online sales allow consumers to have access to sale items well beyond when the stores close at night. 

Amazon Prime Upped the Game

Many retailers have elected to offer holiday sales weeks before Thanksgiving even begins. Thanks to summer events like Amazon Prime Day, which boast sales that surpassed Black Friday & Cyber Monday combined, retailers are advertising more late summer and pre-Black Friday sales to keep up with the demand. It’s the “Christmas in July” effect. Consumers are able to get decent sales for their Christmas shopping so when Black Friday comes, it’s not a necessity that they shop. Retailers offer the same two-day shipping as Amazon, as well as same-day delivery to the stores. 

For some retail shops, advertising hasn’t changed much at all. The fact of the matter is “more than one-third of Americans plan to shop in-store during this year’s Black Friday” and 43% of adults between 30 and 44 plan to spend at least $500. 

Though online shopping is here to stay, so is the gratification that comes when consumers can go to a physical store, touch the item, try it on and go home with it today. Black Friday may be a nuisance to some, but even things like “Small Business Saturday” are a result of the success of Black Friday. That particular day may not have the same glory as it once had, but retailers and businesses have no problem with advancing to capitalize on the latest consumer trends.

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