Last week saw the observance of two great American traditions: the Thanksgiving holiday and Black Friday. Black Friday is of course the annual retail frenzy that occurs on the day after Thanksgiving. This special day is always marked by horror stories of eager consumers lined up outside of stores for hours on end, mad dashes for coveted deals, and also stories of violence and tragedy as overzealous shoppers use desperate and often vicious tactics in hopes of beating rival deal-seekers for much sought-after merchandise.
The advent of the Internet as a major shopping tool has influenced this annual display of avarice in recent years with the addition of a new high holy day of bargain hunting: Cyber Monday. The phrase Cyber Monday refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday on which many online retailers offer special prices on select products to entice buyers. These retailers have many new tools at their disposal this year, using the proliferation of social networking, online exclusives, and smartphones to increase their business on the special day. A USA Today article published today quoted Offerpop (a company that helps retailers run social-marketing campaigns) claiming a 40% increase in social-media campaigns from last year. Examples of how retailers used social media this year include retail giant Target, who rewarded customers for mentioning the company in Twitter posts by giving them electronic gift cards. The company also utilized a Facebook-based application to unveil Black Friday deals.
Highly-motivated consumption has long been associated with the American way of life, and it is no surprise that companies are using the latest tools available to make shopping faster, easier, and more fun than ever before. Cyber Monday deals can be especially appealing for us consumers who prefer to avoid the long lines, herd mentality and frenzied mob violence associated with Black Friday sales. Personally, I would’ve loved to have taken part in the festivities, but was out of the loop. Maybe I’ll get finally get that iPhone I’ve wanted for Christmas!