This year some of my favourite small and local South African brands are not participating in Black Friday.
It got me thinking…. does your brand really need to participate in Black Friday?
The dark history of Black Friday
Where does the term Black Friday come from? Some people/activists/articles link the origins of the term to the American slave trade – Black Friday being the day when slave traders sold slaves for a discount.
However, it appears that this is not factually correct (as with so much information on the Internet).
It seems the term was first documented many years after the slave trade had ended. Read this article by the BBC to learn more – http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/30241594/black-friday-rumours-and-the-truth-about-how-it-got-its-name.
I’ve read other articles that link the term to a major financial crash of the US gold market in the late 1860s. Read more about that here.
“The earliest evidence of the phrase Black Friday originated in Philadelphia, where it was used by police to describe the heavy pedestrian and vehicular traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. This usage dates to at least 1961. As the phrase became more widespread, a popular explanation became that this day represented the point in the year when retailers begin to turn a profit, thus going from being “in the red” to being “in the black”. Source: Wikipedia.com.
Black Friday has since evolved into becoming the day(s) after Thanksgiving when retailers sell off excess and old stock at heavily discounted prices. Traditionally, a major US retail event, it quickly spread across the world, spearheaded by Amazon.
Going back to the original question – should your brand participate in Black Friday sales?
Look at your figures, profit margins and stock levels. If it makes financial sense for your business to sell off stock at heavily discounted prices, then getting involved in Black Friday sales probably makes sense too.
Of course, you can go against the mainstream, and rather offer sales anytime in December ahead of Christmas. This might even be more strategic since your December sale will stand out more (rather than being lost in the ocean of all the other Black Friday specials).
However, are you just participating in Black Friday because it’s expected of your business? If so, it’s time to take a good hard look at your brand’s values and how they align with your marketing.
Don’t just do something because you think you should/or your customers think you should. Look at the figures. Look at your brand’s values. Does Black Friday make financial sense? Does it align with your brand values? Or is it in stark contrast to what your small, value-driven business stands for?
There is honestly no right or wrong answer. You need to do what works best for your business. But remember – you really don’t have to do something just because everyone else is doing it! Stand your ground. Carve out your own path. This is your brand’s journey.