Running Head: Black Friday Consumer Behavior on Black Friday Abstract The purpose of this research is to examine consumer behavior on Black Friday. Black Friday is typically the busiest shopping day of the year, and it is all driven by the chance for consumers to save the most amount of money possible while getting their holiday shopping done. Research was done online, and also through personal experiences. By understanding what retailers and consumers hope to accomplish on this day can have a positive impact on everyone.
Consumers are able to get what they want with the least amount of turmoil, and retailers are able to turn a profit. This research can be most helpful to merchants, as it will help them to understand what a consumer wants, and what they expect the unofficial holiday to be like. A complication with this research is that each consumer is different and may have different expectations in mind. Concentrating on making Black Friday as organized as possible will only benefit all parties involved. Introduction
Black Friday refers to the day after Thanksgiving, which is the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. Black Friday is a day when stores dramatically discount products with the intention of luring in the highest number of shoppers possible. The term Black Friday received its name because that is a day when, hopefully, businesses balance sheets go from red, a loss, to black, a profit (Staff, 2010). It can be a day of chaos, as seen in 2008 when a Walmart employee was trampled to death by a mob of customers (Gould, Trapasso, & Schapiro, 2008).
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But many that day focus on saving money, and are willing to wait in lines for days for a deal. Impulsive Consumption Some of the purchases made on Black Friday may be impulsive. The textbook states that impulsive consumption is usually spontaneous and involves some feelings of liberation; is associated with a lessened sense of costs or consequences; and is motivated by a need for immediate self-fulfillment (Babin & Harris, 2011). Consumers who go to a store for only a couple of items may find themselves enticed by other items that are on sale.
The average person spent $365. 34 during Black Friday weekend 2010, for a total of approximately $45 billion total spent nationally (Chang, 2010). Unplanned purchases may be made because although a consumer went to a store for one sale, they may not have known all the other items that are discounted that day, and may make other purchases. Because many Black Friday shoppers are actually holiday shopping for other people, it is easy to look for a gift for one person, but find those perfect gifts for the other four people on your list, all in the name of getting a good deal.
Social Environment Social environment is defined in the text as “the other customers and employees in a service or shopping environment (Babin & Harris, 2011). Normally, people may be put off by crowding at stores. However, it is the norm on Black Friday. Although it is still unfavorable, it is something that people are willing to adapt to for the day. It may give a sense of urgency, which will put a consumer into the mindset of action. The text also refers to shopping buddies. Many people who wait in line for hours or even days on Black Friday do not do so alone.
There are usually small groups of people, which may help to make consumers feel more comfortable. Consumers are taking more time to find buddies to shop with, and they are making an effort to have a plan in mind for what stores they will visit, and what they will purchase. For people who wait in lines for extended periods, they usually create some type of habitat to pass the time. Consumers bring tents, chairs and heaters to make themselves more comfortable. Some even bring electrical items such as lighting, computers or small televisions to keep them company while waiting for the savings to begin.
The people in line usually form temporary relationships with the people that are around them. Sharing stories or deals that they are interested in is a far cry from the massive chaos shown on television news stories. Attitudes People may get caught up in the excitement of the day, and that can help them to spend even more money. While waiting in line, customers at the front of the line seem to be excited and happy. However, at the end of the line, customers appear to be more frustrated and anxious. Some consumers plan their Black Friday shopping trips weeks in advance.
There are many websites available for people to view Black Friday advertisements online, before they are supposed to be released to the public. Walmart has tried year after year for the advertisements not to be leaked, but they usually end up on these websites before they are supposed to (4 Years Strong: Walmart Sends Another Cease & Desist, 2011). Stores may not want to have their advertisements released early for a couple of reasons. First, consumers having the ability to research products and having too much time to explore all of their options may mean that consumers will not make as many spontaneous purchases on Black Friday.
They also do not want to have their competition see their deals, and then have them beat their prices. Having the advertisements earlier though means consumers are able to plan what stores they want to go to, which may lead to less chaos on the actual day. People are motivated by saving money on Black Friday. Some consumers may even see it as a competition. For some, because there is only a limited selection available for many of the items that are drastically reduced, just acquiring that item may be all the motivation someone needs to be at the front of the line on Black Friday.
A consumer may feel a sense of empowerment, or the thrill of winning, which will only intensify their moods for the day. A consumer may be more likely to make a purchase of something out of the ordinary because of the price on Black Friday. The perceived risk is lower because the consumer balances the risk with the monetary discount that is offered, and can write it off easier. Normally, consumers may think thoroughly about an electronics purchase. However, electronics are usually a major seller on Black Friday.
Because the discount is thought to be so significant, and the consumer thinks there are only a limited number available, they do not have time to think the purchase through like the normally would, and they make the purchase. What people are buying Each year, electronics are the one of the most widely sought after products on Black Friday. In 2009, the introduction of Zhu-Zhu Pets was the top search on Google referring to Black Friday sales (Wong, 2009). Surprisingly, rugs and jewelry were also top searches in 2009. In 2010, the iPad and other tablets were the top searches in electronics (Andrew, 2010). They were ollowed by laptops and HDTV’s. Handheld gadgets are expected to be a top seller for 2011. E-readers, tablets, music players and smart phones all seem to be popular searches for the upcoming holiday (Black Friday 2011 Predictions, 2011). Televisions and accessories are normally highly discounted on Black Friday, and 2011 should be no different. There may be more sales on 3D televisions, blu-ray players, and bundles of the televisions with the accessories. Cyber Monday Some consumers do not want to brave the chaos of Black Friday, and have moved to online shopping, while still looking for the dramatic discounts.
Online purchases have grown steadily over the past few years, and in 2005, the term “Cyber Monday” was created ("Cyber Monday" Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year, 2005). In 2010, Black Friday sales grew 9% from the year before, but Cyber Monday sales grew 16% (U. S. Online Holiday Shopping Season Reaches Record $32. 6 Billion for November-December Period, Up 12 Percent vs. Year Ago, 01). Cyber Monday 2010 was the first billion-dollar spending day in history, and the first time that sales on Monday were higher than Friday.
Many people have a four-day weekend for Thanksgiving, and are back to work on Monday. A large number of consumers are able to place orders right from a work computer, or even their smart phones. Smart phones are also making it easier for consumers to do research on sales, and to do the shopping itself. Online Black Friday sales increased 11% from 2008-2009 (Wong, 2009). Retailer Organization Most consumers on Black Friday have the same goal; to save money. If the stores are able to have some form of organization on Black Friday, it should help to keep the customers organized also.
Chaos is more likely to happen when the store is not prepared for the massive number of shoppers. If the store makes adjustments to the way they normally operate, they are more likely to have an easier time handling the crowds. Passing out tickets to the customers in line for big ticket items is becoming the norm for many stores (Palmer, 2010). By doing so, customers are able to be sure they are going to receive the item they came to purchase, and it is easier to explain when they are sold out of a particular item.
Also, some stores are able to rearrange their stores and put the items that are on sale in a particular area, so customers will not have to search all around the store, adding to the chaos. Many stores are choosing to open very early, with some retailers, such as Toys R Us even opening on Thanksgiving night at 10 P. M (Toys"R"Us Stores Nationwide to Open at 10pm on Thanksgiving Night to Welcome Black Friday Shoppers Earlier Than Ever Before with 200 Doorbusters and More Than $11,000 in Savings on Hot Toys, 2010).
As this was only introduced in 2010, it remains unknown whether other stores will follow the idea. Having enough employees at check-out and for assisting customers is also essential. Retailers may want to also hire some form of security for the day, to prevent mobs of people causing chaos. No matter how prepared a shopper may be on Black Friday, if the store is unorganized or does not have a sensible system in place, chaos may ensue because of the consumers confusion or frustrations. Customers also look for even further discounts on Black Friday by using coupons.
Retailers may want to include in their advertisements and stores about their coupon acceptance policy on Black Friday. If a customer waits in line for hours, then goes in the store to get an item, then waits in line for another hour to check-out, only to find that their coupon will not be accepted, that consumer may get very irritated and that will cause further problems. Conclusion Black Friday is a day that retailers hope to make the most amount of profit. But for consumers, they hope to save as much money as possible. Many consumers make impulsive shopping decisions on Black Friday.
The social environment may lead to this behavior, as many shoppers are with friends or family, and make a display out of their shopping practices on that day. The attitudes of people can vary greatly on that day also. Most people are excited, but that can turn to frustration if it does not go as planned. Purchasing trends can vary each year, depending on what the newest items are. Electronics and the newest toys are usually very popular items. Cyber Monday is also changing the way people shop, and helping them to save even more money from the comfort of their home, from work, or even on their smart phone.
A retailer being organized on Black Friday is imperative, as it can affect consumer behavior and how much money they spend.
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