Holiday season bargain-hunters shouldn’t be counting on that traditional post-turkey coma this Thanksgiving. Macy’s and Target recently announced that they’d be kicking-off “Black Friday” at a red-eyed 12:01 AM this year. As Tiny Tim might have said (had he been a holiday shopper), “God help us, everyone.”
For decades, retailers have looked forward to each year’s “Black Friday.” In fact, the name goes back to the time when stores and businesses would use black ink in their ledgers to record sales. The day after Thanksgiving was a profitable one, and always put them “in the black,” or, in the jargon of the 21st century, they “turned a profit.” Soon, stores were opening earlier and earlier – first at 6AM, then 4AM, then the very day after Thanksgiving. Retailers felt that an early start would give them the jump on their competition. In fact, last year, Kmart, Wal-Mart, and Sears actually opened on Thanksgiving.
But as we’ve noted before, consumers are coloring outside the holiday lines when it comes to Christmas shopping. In a recent study conducted by Brand Keys, 66% of the 16,000 consumers surveyed indicated they had already begun their holiday shopping, looking for deals and sales before ‘Black Friday’ or ‘Cyber Monday.’ Truly, time and (yule)tide wait for no man.
An additional woe for brick and mortar retailers comes courtesy of online retail behemoth Amazon, who just announced that they will host a 2011 Black Friday sale. The interesting part, though, is that this sale will run from November 1st up to and including Black Friday. What a move, especially considering that online retail, in contrast to brick and mortar retail, is a 24/7/365 enterprise. Since this sale will last for 25 days, that’s essentially a 600-hour sale taking place directly before all other holiday sales, with Amazon showing us, yet again, how elastic some brands can be to the consumer’s preferences.
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But truthfully, it’s not the slashed prices or, necessarily, pushing back Black Friday that will pull consumers in this holiday season. According to 2011 Brand Keys research, Merchandise Range drives loyalty for discount and online retailers, and Store Reputation drives the loyalty for department stores. We know that cutthroat pricing and ho-ho-ho (hum) deals can’t compete with the value provided by retailers who truly understand consumer priorities.
So as an early holiday treat, feast your eyes on the retail brands that got the consumer priorities right in 2011, according to our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index:
Oscar Wilde once said, “Man knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.” We say “A good retailer knows that price isn’t everything but value is all things.” Retailers who understand this are the ones whose cash registers will jingle all the way, both in season and out.