Black Thu…Friday

black-friday-shopping-620km111612-1363290612

Black “Friday” comes earlier and earlier every year. A few years ago stores started opening at midnight, last year many opened at 10pm on Thanksgiving and now this year some stores are going to be open all day on Thanksgiving! This is an alarming trend that we as marketers need to stop perpetuating.

Thanksgiving is a day for families to come together and give thanks for one another. Because it is not a religious holiday, Thanksgiving is often the only holiday that some families get to spend together. I think that if retailers continue to take away the sanctity of Thanksgiving, consumers (not to mention employees) will soon become resentful and in the worst case scenario become disloyal and begin to shop at retailers who support the same Thanksgiving ideals they do instead of shopping at whichever retailer has the best deals.

One company that will not be opening their doors on Thursday is Costco. Their reason being: “Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season, and we simply believe they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families. Nothing more complicated than that”.  The move has endeared customers to Costco with people like Dave Letterman saying that Costco will be his next job. These retailers are taking a similar approach:

Costco

Burlington Coat Factory

BJ’s

Petco

Marshall’s

Nordstrom

T.J. Maxx

Home Depot

DSW

Lowe’s

GameStop

The reason that the brick-and-mortar stores are opening earlier and earlier every year is to keep up with the online retailers. Best Buy began putting technology gifts on sale Nov. 20 and Walmart started offering free shipping on the season’s hot gifts as of Nov. 1. I propose that we either need to respect the Thanksgiving Holiday and go back to making Black Friday be a big deal ON Black Friday or we need to get rid of Black Friday and its sense of occasion altogether. I think we are going the way of the latter: according to a recent study by Accenture, 19 percent of Americans report that they’ve already spent between $100 and $500 on holiday shopping—having started as early as September—and 18 percent of consumers now believe the best holiday deals happen before Thanksgiving. I fall into this category – I purchased my Dad’s present back in October. Based upon Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales this year, it will be very interesting to see what retailers decide to do next year – If they switch over to a whole Thanksgiving week of deals or hit Black Friday harder than this year.

Are you #TeamBlackFriday or #TeamShopOnTurkeyDay?

Birthday Blunders

Being the poor college student and marketer that I am, I love loyalty programs. For any company that I visit on a regular basis, I most likely have some type of loyalty card for them. In terms of just coffee shops I’m signed up for three! My birthday is this month so I am very much looking forward to getting free stuff from all of my loyalty programs. Beginning first on September 30th from Noodles and Company, and October 1st and 12:01 from Drake, I started receiving my birthday offers. Unfortunately, my birthday is not until the 13th. These companies were sending me things nearly two weeks before they should have been. This lack of attention to detail is due to laziness.

Emily_Gutknecht_Marketing                                These companies have all of their loyalty members in a database and they probably just hit a button on the first of each month to send a birthday promotion to everyone who has a birthday that month. All they would have to do to be more accurate and therefore more credible to the people whose birthday is not on the first of the month is some database management. Even sending a birthday promotion at the beginning of each week would be better than just the first of the month – a task perfect for an intern. It’s disappointing that companies can’t be more detail oriented in an effort to improve and retain their relationship with their most loyal customers.

Unlike the companies that have been sending me my birthday promotions, when used correctly, these programs can be very adept at building long-term customer loyalty. For instance, even though the program is not very advantageous for the consumer, (buy 12 drinks, get one free) The Starbucks program is one of the best in my mind. All a consumer has to do to join is register a gift card. With this registration they get a free drink on their birthday, free black coffee when they stay in the store, random emails with promotions, and a free drink for every 12 they purchase. When a consumer purchases a certain amount of drinks in a year, Starbucks sends them a personalized Gold Card. This card comes with extra perks in addition to the ones listed above. As a consumer, the Gold Card is a really cool thing to have it’s shiny, has your name on it, and is a status symbol so that everyone knows you drink a lot of STARBUCKS coffee. From a marketing perspective, the Gold Card is a gold mine for Starbucks. Members load money onto their card which they then use to purchase Starbucks products, so Starbucks knows everything about their best customer’s buying habits – what they buy, how often they buy it, even the time of day of purchases. They can use this information to create custom direct marketing offers for specific types of consumers.

Emily_Gutknecht_Marketing Have you ever experienced a well-intended but poorly executed promotion?