December 01, 2014

The Day The Delusions Die

Last week ended with Black Friday.

Black Friday is the day all the delusions about brand loyalty, consumer engagement, and brand relationships go right down the ol' crapper.

It's the day that brands and consumers show what they're really made of.

It's the day of in-store fighting, parking lot brawls, and stealing goods out of other peoples' shopping carts.

It is the culmination of almost a month of relentless screaming about the best deals and the lowest prices.

It is the time of year that all pretensions about the "social" consumer and the "permission" model are reduced to one simple, urgent question: How much?

It is the day that undermines all the pompous musings of marketing pundits, advertising experts and, yes, loudmouth bloggers.

Black Friday is the day everyone in advertising and marketing should study assiduously. Instead, it is written off as a weird anomaly.

Black Friday is not just a day of hysterical buying and selling. It's the day that modern marketing theory comes face-to-face with the real world.


Jim said...

Fuck yeah, well said. And the pompous middle class snobs (some in ad agencies) get to sneer - look at them chasing a bargain like pigeons on a chip. Price is pretty important to a lot of people.

That is why I predict 2015 to be the year of the own label.

As brand owners slowly discover that people aren't nearly as emotionally attached to their brand as the brand planner made out in that meeting last week, And if a shampoo bottle, peanut butter jar or butter tub looks just like yours and does the same thing then we'll switch to save a buck. Unless you actually tell us why we shouldn't with a well rounded argument.

Cecil B. DeMille said...

Store label brands are doing quite well, to the horror of most big brands and advertisers. And they don't have to advertise. They simply need to be next to the stuff that does and cost a dollar less. Cliff's Notes? We are obsolete.

Mark said...

I am a cereal junkie. When I was broke I learned very quickly through trial and error which store brands tasted the same or close enough to the brand name cereals. To this day, I still buy the house brand versions of the ones that taste the same when I'm in the mood for whatever. Why spend the extra money.

Jeff Spicoli said...

It seems to me that part of what makes Black Friday such a marketing success has to do with simple economics and elasticity.

People may not be willing to pay a little lower price for what they consider to be a less desirable product. But if they’re able to get that less desirable product for half the cost, they’ll jump at the chance.

The other part is about something much more human.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to stand in line all night long with a bunch of numbnuts, with my own nuts going numb from the cold just for the chance to save a few bucks.

For most people, I think what it comes down to is that they want to feel like they’re special. That they’ve won something. Even if they have to pay money to win it. Except in this case it’s like holding a lottery ticket that you can actually earn the prize for by getting to the store earlier than everyone else.

Of course, very few people actually get their hands on the really great deals. The majority are willing to deal with the Black Friday bullshit because they somehow feel like they’re getting a deal. That they’re in on the winnings.

It’s like the conclusion of your 3-part “theory of everything” for advertising. Good advertising appeals to people as humans. You can’t write advertising that’s more human than what people believe Black Friday offers.

But just like with the ad industry, what it offers is pretty much bullshit. Albeit it much more appealing bullshit than what advertisers tend to come up with.

Charlotte said...

Black Friday? Brands? Pfft. Holiday shopping is easy. Liquor store. Done!
Except the grandkids, obviously, and Legos are the bomb.

Guy Swarbrick said...

Every year's going to be the year of the own brand label - with twice the level of spurious prediction when the economy is in the tank. What a surprise.

The truth is most of us will buy own label some of the time for some products and not for others. The mix changes a bit as belts tighten. Over the long term, not so much.

George Parker said...

When we first moved to America (before most of yours and my readers were born) My wife said... "There's a sale on at Macy's." To which I replied... "My dear, there's always a sale on at Macy's." Just like political campaigning, some things never stop.
Cheers/George "AdScam" Parker

Juliana said...

Tell me about it! We now have Black Friday in Brazil (it's the 3rd year). Can you fucking believe it? And people go crazy as well. We don't have the turkey, nor Thanksgiving, but we do have the Black Friday (and, of course, "blow jobs for the price of hugs" advertised everywhere).