Angela Lawrence, Associate Dean, Staffordshire Business School
2020 celebrates a decade since the arrival of the term Black Friday – traditionally the day after Thanksgiving in America, it came into existence to encourage people to take advantage of an annual holiday to spend some money and get a good deal. This year more than ever the thought of Black Friday disturbs me. It’s another tradition that seems to be driven by consumerism and globalisation – some media even have a Black Friday channel so that you can snatch up the deals as soon as they are available. This year, I find it particularly difficult to observe the way in which consumerism is pervading every aspect of our lives, at a time when for so many finances are incredibly challenged.
The deals have already started and as if Black Friday wasn’t enough, it’s swiftly followed by Cyber Monday. As a marketer I totally get it, but that just doesn’t make it right and quite frankly I struggle with it this year of all years. Don’t get me wrong, we all need to spend where we can to bring the wheels of our economy back to life, but this is about making sound choices about how to spend your hard-earned money. So, to make me feel better if nothing else, I want to ask you to stop and think before you spend your money on Black Friday deals.
These are the five things I want you to consider:
1 – Is there a chance that you are going to buy something you had no intention of purchasing, something that you really don’t need, simply because it looks like such a good deal? Let’s face it, from the minute you wake on Black Friday you’ll be inundated with marketing messages on emails, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…and you’ll see deals that you think are irresistible. Ask yourself the question – would I have gone out with the intent to buy it had it not been cleverly marketed to me?
2 – Your local small and medium sized businesses are also crying out for trade but may not have the same way of reaching you with clever marketing messages. Take a moment to consider whether you could buy the same or similar deal from a local business, to keep our SME’s afloat too.
3 – When we come out of lockdown and shops are open again, your Christmas shopping trip might also include a cup of coffee from the pop up stall run by a small business, a taxi ride from the station to the shops, a bite to eat before you head home . These small businesses and services need our trade too – don’t restrict yourself to buying online from the big retailers who arguably have deeper pockets to dig into to weather the storm. Equally, don’t deny yourself the Christmas shopping experience if that’s something you enjoy as part of the build up to the festive season.
4 – Do you need it? Do you really need it? In a world full of discarded products, where will it end up? Can it become part of a circular economy or is it a linear purchase that will end up polluting our environment once it’s use is over?
5 – Finally, can you replace this Black Friday purchase decision with something much more meaningful? UNICEF are asking us to do Black Friday with a difference, our local hospices are asking for help, there are foodbanks in desperate need of donations – which use of your hard-earned money will make you feel better in the long run?
Whichever way you choose to spend your money one thing’s for sure – there will be something else to tempt you no sooner than your hand is out of your wallet. Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be followed by Boxing Day sales and New Year sales, then before you know it we’ll have Easter Eggs on the shelves!