Cyber Monday and The Consumers Psyche

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The British novelist Sue Townsend once described the strangeness she observed while waiting for a delayed flight, “Although there are at least two hundred empty seats in the departure lounge, the majority of my fellow passengers begin to queue in front of the desk. Why? We have all been given our seat numbers for the aeroplane.” She labels this behaviour as “communal airport neurosis,” and it’s true- people have become conditioned to behave in certain ways in certain situations, whether they really need to or not; it becomes a shared, or communal experience. Consumers now battle it out (and we don’t mean figuratively) when it comes to grabbing a bargain at the post Thanksgiving sale known as Black Friday- the event has quickly developed from a shrewd marketing ploy to something that is almost a shared cultural experience, steeped in consumerism. The same is becoming true for Cyber Monday, which is the online shopping equivalent of Black Friday. So what are some of the advantages of a Cyber Monday promotion for your online business?

Customer Programming

Consumers have now essentially been programmed into going online on Cyber Monday in order to hunt out the best bargains for the holiday season. There can be some benefits in not competing against larger online retailers, and offering a sale as an alternative to Cyber Monday, but it’s important to remember that the vast majority of consumers have a fixed shopping budget, and unless they are hunting for a very specific item, they may in fact purchase an alternative on Cyber Monday, simply because of the greatly reduced cost. You might offer the same product that a customer was unable to obtain from a larger retailer, but this becomes irrelevant if you didn’t have a Cyber Monday promotion– the customer may well be unaware of your products and services.

Your Slice of the Pie

In 2010, Cyber Monday became the first ever $1 billion online shopping day. While online sales continue in popularity as the holiday period moves towards Christmas, the vast majority of online spending takes place within this 24 hour period. Difficult economic times have made shoppers all the more opportunistic, meaning that if they see a significant bargain, they will take it. It can be detrimental to your operations if you focus your promotional activities on a time when the consumers’ budget has already been exhausted.

An Alternative to Black Friday

Media outlets almost gleefully show the carnage of shoppers fighting each other as they scramble for Black Friday bargains at stores- the event has truly become a shared cultural experience. In recent years, the rampant consumerism has perhaps become a turn off for many shoppers. They certainly appreciate a good bargain, but at the same time, they don’t plan to stand in line all night and have to fight others for a discounted iPad. The event took on an added ugliness in 2008, when a Wal-Mart employee was killed by stampeding shoppers who broke down the doors in their desperation for a bargain. While Black Friday is still exceptionally popular, the negative connotations has perhaps led to an increasing number of shoppers who want to stay at home and grab a bargain from the comfort of their laptop.

Looking at the way customers have now accepted Cyber Monday as the best time to shop online for bargains shows that your online business may well be missing out if you choose to sit this promotion out.