Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 2, 201411:32 PM

Why I Hate Black Friday

Everyone Loves A Good Deal.

Say what you will about Best Buy, but I love getting their newspaper flyers (FSI for those in the business) every week. I really can't wait to see what's what in the world of consumer electronics. I love anything that has lights on it, beeps and can be connected to a wi-fi network. When I was a kid, I used to take catalogs of the big brand retailers, and play this game, where I had to choose one thing from every page. It would keep me busy for hours. What I'm trying to say, is that I'm a retail nerd. Funny enough, I don't buy much at all, but I love the experience of stores and shopping malls.

I love the smell of commerce in the morning.

Back to Best Buy: When I finally do buy something, I want to know that I got the ultimate price. I know there are others who push this further, and can't sleep at night if they could have bought something cheaper, but I'm fine with just not getting totally taken like a tourist in some foreign flea market. So, there's nothing more frustrating than buying something one week, only to see that it went on sale (for much cheaper) a few weeks later. I know what you're thinking, if you hang on to the receipt and bring it back to the store with you, most retailers are fine with bridging the gap by either paying you back the difference or with a gift card, but who has the time? It becomes this strange game of scruples mixed with a cost/benefit ratio experiment. How much is it for... And is it worth your time? Plus, I hate looking cheap. Yes, even in front of strangers, and I'm not sure why I care what some random cashier thinks, but I do. Go ahead, judge me.

The problem with Black Friday.

First off, I hate the name. It sounds so negative. Like the end of the world. Some marketer, somewhere, really needs to take another crack at it. Seriously. I also hate the trampling of our fellow human beings to get a cheap TV. Yes, I also realize that how these retailers concoct these offers is a part of the problem. No one is innocent on this day of shopping frenzy that should be fun and always turns violent. Nobody should get hurt buying socks. Still, what bothers me the most is how the spirit and experience of what it means to go out and shop gets taken from us. Black Friday is - without question - the culmination of our bad shopping behavior throughout the entire holiday season. 'Tis the season, was never meant to be about how mean we are. From finding parking spots, to long lines at the cash, to people annoying you with their slow pace through the mall (or their racing pace). There is something about the mixing of pre-holiday stress with shopping that - when shaken and stirred - brings out the beasts in us.

A busy state of mind.

Group psychologists and criminologists could be better deployed to figure out why we turn on one another on Black Friday, but it's the complete degradation of the shopping experience that makes me loathe it so. We - as marketers spend so much of our time talking about customer centricity, building experiences, generating loyalty, providing value and information to consumers, but it all seems to get tossed aside for one day. It's like a real life version of The Purge, where only a few "win" (and yes, it's worth questioning how we define this win). The rest of us just get that terrible, sinking feeling in the pits of our stomachs, that no business truly cares about us as customers and - when given the choice - would prefer this strange retail version of professional wrestling's Battle Royale over something valuable and meaningful.

Black Friday always get me asking the same question: at what cost?

By Mitch Joel

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