How is Black Friday like the Super Bowl?

Crowd.jpgRetailers light up when they talk about “Black Friday.” This is the Friday right after Thanksgiving where they offer all kinds of crazy deals and hope to start to show black ink instead of red for the first time during the typical year.

I’ve already shared how I feel about the Super Bowl, and I have similar feelings about Black Friday. I think marketers are looking at the wrong things when they examine whether or not what they’re doing on these particular days is “good marketing.”

The idea is to get a stampede of customers into your store before the crack of dawn and get your inventory in their eager hands before your competitor does. The opportunity to get a jump on holiday sales is there, but does this tactic really net positive results?

First, there is that whole issue of the stampede of customers. The customers get pitted against each other in a viciously competitive way that hardly reflects the holiday spirit. I also don’t think it does much for the brand of the store or the product when the television news leads with a story about how one granny broke the other’s nose fighting over the last Tickle Me Elmo at Wal-Mart.

Assuming the sales events are non-violent, I still question whether they are really that productive. The merchandise is already offered at a discounted price and probably at a lower overall profit margin. The run on the store requires additional resources in the form of added personnel and such, which of course drives up overhead and can also eat into profit margins. Doesn’t that then push the elusive goal of producing black ink instead of red for the first time all year back just a little further?

I think my favorite Burtism, “Don’t cut the price, build the brand!” applies here as well as anywhere. And as I mentioned a few years ago, I think the online retailers are doing a better job of delivering in this area. Translation: RULES!

Price is what you pay…Value is what you get!” – Warren Buffett