Online shopping changed the game completely. Now, Black Friday is the biggest event in the online shopping ...20 Nov 2019 594 Views
Written by a Lund University Student
Online shopping changed the game completely. Now, Black Friday is the biggest event in the online shopping industry during the whole year. And is far more than just that one Friday. Is this really what the consumers want, or is it just too overwhelming?
Black Friday is for many of us associated with great sales and deals, endless queues and an almost maniacal shopping atmosphere. The phenomenon Black Friday was originally the start of Christmas shopping in the United States. During the latest years this phenomenon has made it to Sweden and exploded from one day to more than a week filled with deals and endless shopping.
The online shopping sites have taken advantage of this widely popular spectacle and have become the leaders of Black Friday. Fur sure I am not the only one who feels like I get thousands of e-mails, messages, social media posts and ads popping up everywhere regarding Black Friday deals. It can absolutely be a bit annoying, don’t you agree? This year I believe I got the first advertisement at least two weeks prior to the actual Black Friday.
“Pre Black Week deals” it said.
From Black Friday to Black Week, to pre Black Week.
Well, that escalated quickly when online shopping decided to take over. Kind of funny I believe, since it was originally only the “Cyber Monday” that was made for online shopping sales. Although it does not come as a chock that Black Friday has had such a huge break through online. But is there a limit for how much we can take before this extreme shopping event will be too overwhelming? Has it maybe already gone to far?
The shift from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0
It is no secret that our usage and presence at the web has changed dramatically over the years. As well as how marketers have used the web for sending out messages and interacting with consumers. The usage of the web has shifted from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0; from companies’ monologues to a dialogue between company and consumers.
During the Web 1.0 era, marketers sent out tons of information for consumers to read but not respond to in anyway. The goal was to reach the consumers and maximize the influence amongst them (Hennig-Thurau, Hofacker & Bloching, 2013). It was a one-way communication, lead by the marketers. Of course we still stumble upon this type of marketing today, but it is probably not our first choice of communication nowadays. Consumers want to raise their voices and be heard. They want to get responses from the brands and have a dialogue.
On Web 2.0 consumers and marketers can interact and create brand content together. Brands can get in-depth information about consumers and their preferences, and consumers can get their voiced heard (Fournier & Avery, 2011). Consumers are now able to share their opinions and experiences about a brand and converse with the brand. If the consumers are not satisfied they can easily spread the word to millions of people. Consumers have thus become the new leaders. Marketers have lost most of their powers to the consumers. Through this shift in power, from company to consumer, the focus is now to facilitate conversations about the brand instead of controlling it (Christodoulides, 2009).
The importance of social media
The communication on the web changed due to the increased use of social media (Hennig-Thurau, Hofacker & Bloching, 2013). Today almost all Swede´s use some kind of social media. In 2017, 81% of Sweden’s population used social medias (IIS, 2017). The increased use of social media is happening worldwide as well. Social media channels are growing rapidly, and across all age groups (Barker, 2016).
I do not think that anyone argues that brands don’t need to be present on social media channels today. Social media has affected a lot, consumers’ behaviour included (Labrecque, Esche, Mathwick, Novak & Hofacker, 2013). Ricci (2017) argue that brands need to build a strong presence online in order to attract more consumers, which in the end will create more revenue. Sales will grow since social media helps consumers find new products, compare options and decide which to choose (Sudha & Sheena, 2017).
But just being present on social media is not enough. Brands need to build engagement with their followers (Barwise & Meehan, 2010). Once again, letting the followers and consumers have a voice is incredibly important. Brands need to listen to what their consumers has to say and respond to them. When present on social medias, brands should focus on gaining consumer insights rather than to focus on selling (Barwise & Meehan, 2010). As a consumer myself I would most definitely agree with this. You raise your voice because you want to be heard and taken serious. Not to be just another target for sales.
In addition, Barwise & Meehan (2010) presents four basics things to consider when getting your brand out there in the social media jungle:
- Offer and communicate a clear customer promise
- Building trust by delivering this promise
- Improve this promise constantly
- Innovate beyond the familiar
These fundamental factors have clearly a focus on the consumer. Which once again proves that social media and Web 2.0 revolves around the consumers and their interests at heart.
You may now think that if you only are present at social medias and listen to your consumers you might succeed. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that. There are many other factors to take into consideration as well. Once again, we will focus on the consumers. After all, they are the leaders of social media. In order for the brands to start listening and interacting with the consumers they need to know where they are. Do we find them on Instagram, on Facebook, on Snapchat, on blogs or somewhere completely different from these channels?
Once you have established where to find the right followers, another question will pop up. What do they want to see? For example, younger age groups are more interested in pictures whilst older followers prefer more texts (Sudha & Sheena, 2017). Make sure to get this right. This is even more important today, as consumers are exposed to so much information online. There is a limit to attention amongst consumers. The more things being posted online, the less attention it gets from the audience (Van Dijk, 2012). So if you post something wrong, on the wrong channel, you might not get any response at all. Because there will just not be people there who cares at all.
Black Friday online: are the consumers really the leaders?
Taking all of these factors into consideration, is Black Friday really done well online?
Well, I do not completely believe so. Starting with the type of communication, for me most communication regarding Black Friday are definitely one-way communications. As said earlier, I got tons of emails and messages with Black Friday deals. Of course, I may subscribe to one too many newsletters. However, that does not change the fact that all of those brands choose to communicate in a one-way approach to their consumers about Black Friday.
What happened with letting the consumers be the leaders, like a true Web 2.0 approach?
Brands are at least present at social medias during Black Friday. But I do not agree with their presence there being consumer oriented. On social medias as well it is all about pushing out information and deals. And super deals. They have to make sure that no one misses the “Pre” Pre Black Week deals of course. As a consumer I find it a bit mocking almost. Where are the interactions with me as a consumer? If I have a say in this matter, I think Black Friday is getting a bit “over the top” so to say.
Barker, S. (2016), Social Media Week- 5 Reasons Why Influencer Marketing Shouldn’t be ignored, Available Online: https://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2016/03/5-reasons-influencer-marketing-shouldnt-ignored/ (Accessed 2018-11-25)
Barwise, P., Meehan, S. (2010). The one Thing You Must Get Right When Building a Brand. Harvard Business Review, Vol. 88 Issue: 12, pp.80-84
Christodoulides, G. (2009) Marketing in the post-internet era. Marketing Theory, Vol. 9 Issue: 1, pp. 141-144.
Fournier, S. & Avery, J. (2011) The uninvited brand, Business Horizons, Vol. 54 Issue: SPECIAL ISSUE: SOCIAL MEDIA, pp. 193-207
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Sudha, M., & Sheena K. (2017) Impact of Influencers in Consumer Decision Process: the Fashion Industry. SCMS Journal of Indian Management, pp. 14-30
van Dijk, J. (2012) The Network Society, SAGE Publications Ltd: London
Students from the International Marketing and Brand Management program at Lund University are the contributing authors for the BrandBase blog.