By: Daniel Sweeney On: November 28, 2011 In: Advertising & Marketing Comments: 0

Ah, the glory that is Thanksgiving. It’s that wonderful time of year where we can all shamelessly enjoy hours of food and football – oh and there’s that whole family thing too.

While some of us might do nothing but sleep in and enjoy a second helping of pumpkin pie and pigskin that following Friday, there are approximately 80 million Americans at the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

An estimated 80 million shoppers are expected to crowd malls and shopping centers all over the country this coming Friday, more commonly referred to as Black Friday.

Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving Day, traditionally marks the beginning of the holiday season. Retailers slash prices, stores hold crazy sales and malls open their doors hours before sunrise.

Over the top? Absolutely. But the shopping extravaganza has become as much of a holiday as Thanksgiving itself. According to the National Retail Federation, last year’s Black Friday weekend saw more than 212 million shoppers spend an estimated $45.0 billion.

So with extended deals, online shopping and not to mention the presence of raucous, sometimes violent, crowds, why do millions of Americans continue to participate in the madness that is Black Friday weekend?

Many blame the “limited time only” mindset for the Black Friday mob scene. Copyblogger’s Brian Clark sums up the scarcity-driven mentality of the consumer best, “In a nutshell, opportunities of all kinds seem more valuable when they are less available.”

Essentially, an iPad marked at 10% off may not be worth the trouble of waking up early, racing to the electronics store and waiting in a massive line, but the fact that the deal is for a limited time only drives up the demand.

But the craziness doesn’t end with the customers this weekend; with billions of dollars at stake, the stores take part in the lunacy as well.

Finding consumers willing to spend this weekend won’t be a problem. With every store offering a different door busting deal, a challenge retailers and advertisers face is differentiating their sales and promotions in the minds of the consumers.

While there’s no shortage of off-the-wall Black Friday ads and commercials, a few brands have gone the extra mile. Looking to generate additional buzz and chatter for their sales, retailers have turned to the likes of Rebecca Black and Justin Bieber.

So whether embrace the insanity or not, I think we can all agree that Black Friday is certainly a sight to behold.

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