Black Friday marketing ploy
Student/PR

Black Friday – the best marketing ploy of our generation?

It’s Black Friday, and I’d be lying if I said I’d not succumbed to the temptation of the sales once again this year (thanks GymShark & New Look). But, I’m always going to look at this day with two perspectives. The cynical marketeer in me knows that this is no more than a very well executed ploy, piggybacked off the USA and now used to exploit the shoppers in the UK.

BUT, in the same breath, I still can’t help but feel as though I’d be missing out if I didn’t have a look at the sales at the very least. (And that’s how psychological marketing gets ya’).

Because, and I hate to say it, the deals you get on Black Friday you can often get most other times of the year too. Okay, I’ll give it to the shops that do 20% off everything or something similar. But most retailers, who claim to add crazy reductions to their stock, likely do the same at other times of the year too. It’s speculated that some companies even up their prices before a big promotion (such as Black Friday, or even Christmas) so that it looks like you’re getting a bargain, but really you’re just paying the same price you would’ve a couple of weeks ago (looking at you, Argos). It sounds scandalous but it’s actually super common and happens every single year.


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A 2018 survey by PWC found that 17% of Brits definitely intend to buy something over the weekend (that’s 1 in 6 of us *looks around the office and knows that the person is me*), and a further 27% are open to persuasion if the deals are good enough. Their survey also found that the average shopper intends to spend a massive £234 over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, contributing to the £7 billion of total revenue that Black Friday brings in each year (source: Finder).

What we’re looking at, though, is nothing more than a stunning marketing campaign. I hate to say it, as I’m drawn into it every year (without fail) and I really should know better. But that’s the truth.

Why Black Friday is one of the best marketing tactics of our generation…

Why is it, you ask?

Because you don’t need that supersized T.V, or that new pair of trainers, or that basket full of clothes. But you’re probably going to buy it anyway right? You’ll walk out of the store, laughing as you think you’ve gotten a great deal, but really, it’s the store that’s laughing at YOU. As that £89.99 Kindle, you just purchased, is probably going to be £79.99 or even less after Christmas. But that’s retail marketing for you, guys!

I could leave it at that, because – for that lone reason in itself, Black Friday is one of the greatest marketing ploys our generation has ever known. However, because I like to talk, I’m not going to leave it there. Let’s look at some other reasons as to why Black Friday is the epitome of a successful marketing campaign.

  • Because it wasn’t ours, but we made it ours: I remember when Black Friday first became a thing and it was reported in a way that kickstarted its popularity from the get-go. (In short, it was covered in press far and wide that Black Friday caused the eruptions of massive in-store riots, queues for days and good old fashioned fist fights, all at the hands of a bit of a bargain). If you don’t remember a time when Black Friday wasn’t successful, it’s because there wasn’t one. Not least in the UK anyway. This tradition, which has become something of a national holiday even, is longstanding in the USA, but we only recently adopted it here. And since then, its popularity has been overwhelming.
  • Because people play up to it, and give it more publicity: only this morning, my boyfriend and I were watching people actually scrapping in ASDA over a reduced TV. Not only this, but people were falling over one and other in the queues as the supermarket opened its doors, and there’s actually footage of people getting trampled by a stampede of thrifty shoppers. (I invite you all to read this article by the way, which covers a brawl that happened at the hands of Aldi and their sale of those giant Kevin the carrot toys released as a Black Friday deal. The pinnacle of British culture is depicted in that article). And herein lies yet another reason as to why Black Friday is so successful. Maybe that sounds weird, but hear me out. When an event creates such an uproar, the press love to cover it. And when the press cover incidents as so, and promote them to the general public, said general public are thinking ‘that deal must be great if people are causing such a riot over it’ and are therefore inclined to head to stores to check out the action for themselves. Sales increase, popularity increases, and it’s likely that such fights and altercations will increase too – and the wheel keeps on turning and turning and turning. It’s genius, and it sells itself.
  • Because everybody jumps on the bandwagon: originally, Black Friday was mainly about Tech deals. But that’s a far cry from where we’re at now. Walking to work this morning, I had to laugh when I saw that one of the betting shops opposite me were doing a Black Friday deal too – what?! Pretty much every company in the UK is now all aboard the Black Friday wagon, and that isn’t just confined to the retail sector too. Oh no, even big restaurant chains, salons, software providers, you name it are all spewing out deals left, right and centre. And to be fair to them, it’s often these kinds of industries that provide the genuine, and the better deals too. Because most savings can be had during other times of the year in retail stores, but a lot of those in the service industry are offering reductions on their prices, such as 50% off in some cases, which is actually much better value for money, and a genuine saving. So I guess Black Friday does have its perks after all…
  • Because the hype before the day is just as big as the day itself: another thing that makes Black Friday SO successful is the stir it generates before the end of the week even draws to a close. In fact, a lot of brands promote their sales way before the date. I actually brought something in a ‘Black Friday’ sale last Saturday. So that just about sums it up. Though it all boils over on Friday itself, the hype lasts all week – sometimes even longer – once again reinforcing how truly revolutionary this marketing ploy has become.
2390E7EB00000578-2852585-Scrum_down_Customers_push_each_other_out_of_the_way_as_the_crowd-72_1417213372623.jpg
Nothing like a good old scrap to get you in the mood for shopping, eh. (Source: Daily Mail)

#BlackFriday or #BuyNothingDay?

But these sneaky tactics don’t fool everyone.

In fact, a poll by KPMG found that 51% of people don’t even think the discounts they’re offered on Black Friday are a genuine saving. And they’re not wrong!

That hashtag in the heading isn’t me being cheesy either, nope! It’s actually the 5th trending topic on Twitter right now and it’s populated with Twitter users outing Black Friday sales for everything they’re worth, or sharing money saving tips which all pretty much loosely say ‘you don’t need it so don’t buy anything today’. (The kind of thing I need to listen to, but never do). So it seems that Black Friday doesn’t have everybody beguiled. Perhaps it did a few years ago, but I think people are growing wiser (assisted by the press of course, who often out retailers for their shoddy reductions that can be brought cheaper at any other given point in the year).

As I write this on my lunch break, I actually thought it worth sharing that I heard on that radio earlier that 9/10 discounts are cheaper at other times. Which proves two things:

  1. What I’ve been saying this whole time: your money is better placed with other deals (such as the Boxing Day sales – which are sincerely good value) than in Black Friday.
  2. People have grown wiser – and Black Friday just isn’t as captivating as it perhaps once was. Then again, it still generates a staggering revenue. So I guess for every 1 sceptic, there’s another 2 who fall for it. (And ironically, one of those two is often me).

Nevertheless, I’d still say it’s one of the biggest, and the most iconic, marketing ploys of all time. Not least our generation. Timed perfectly to tie in with Xmas shopping, any business who buys into the Black Friday hype is buying into a largely successful and proven to work marketing campaign, and they can certainly expect success from it.

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PR and lifestyle blogger jessica pardoe

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