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How Brands Could Help Us All Win on Black Friday
By: Emory Brown
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On Wednesday, November 21, 2012, people across America were doing more than stuffing their turkeys; they were planning their strategies to get the best deals on “Black Friday." Outdoorsmen camped outside stores days ahead of time. Families turned into Special Forces units with objectives to infiltrate various ticket lines to capture the all-valuable number that would ensure they'd receive the products they’d come for. With online sales and in-store sales going on simultaneously, it’s a day to be reckoned with as it relates to making fourth-quarter numbers for retailers. 

Yet, with all the great value that comes from "Black Friday," there is a downside to it. People are giving up a great American family tradition to capture an item at a price they won’t get again until next year. At Walmart, some shoppers come in as early as 12:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day to scope the store out. These savvy shoppers are very successful at getting what they came for, but unfortunately every shopper isn’t this keen. Some inexperienced shoppers come out and spend hours waiting to get that prize item just to go home empty-handed.

Sears had an online and in-store sale this year with great advertising to support it...and failed the online portion completely. They built hype for their rewards customers to receive special online prices only for them to be bamboozled at the 5 p.m. start time. Customers logged in to find that the products that they were promised were no longer available. Even the customer service line for Sears stated, “If you are calling about the online sale, no one is available to help you.” Customers filled Sears’ rewards site with complaints that Sears dropped the ball.

The truth is that this happens every year to millions of faithful customers of many retail giants. Promises...promises...promises...that are unfulfilled create disappointed consumers who look like the kid on Christmas that actually got the piece of coal in their stocking. Some missed Thanksgiving dinner. Some missed the game. Some missed the opportunity to give their child that one gift they couldn’t afford at this time because it was out of their budget. The gift that “Black Friday” made obtainable. 

Retailers, we understand that you are giving away deep discounts. But is there a better way to manage the system? How can we make sure that those families who are really in need of deep discounts get a chance to make it happen for their little ones? Maybe we can take a page out of Target’s handbook and do something like their “5% Good" campaign: Set aside a percentage of the deep discounts for the truly underprivileged, who could share their stories prior to the big day and be selected as one of the families to truly get the help they need to make their year a little happier. It's a way to say thanks to the communities that support your retail chains.

Something to think about! Brands would definitely boost community support and also show that in American retail, we want all of our customers to win.


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About the Author
Emory Brown is an award-winning creative director/writer whose mission is to spread the gospel of what great marketers can do when they put their heads together and work together for the greater good and not the bottom line. Working with many esteemed clients, his portfolio of work ranges in genre from conservative to ultra-modern including American Family Insurance, United Airlines, Mazda 6 and RX-8, Illinois Lottery, Tyson, Miller Genuine Draft, Nike Air Force 1, and Mercedes Benz, to name a few.  
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