Every Day Should Be Black Friday

lunghuangnewData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Lung Huang, vice president of digital advertising and global partnerships at dunnhumby.

Here it is: Holiday Season 2014. Already.

Before you could pry your sugary fingers away from the last piece of non-GMO, non-high fructose corn syrup Halloween candy, the nation of good and plenty fervently began convincing shoppers that it was time for holiday shopping.

Not in December. Not on Black Friday. Right. Now.

The National Retail Federation predicts holiday spending will reach $616.9 billion this year, a 4.1% increase over 2013. That means we will spend about $80 more this year for every man, woman and child living in the United States.

Online shoppers are expected to spend an average of $931.75 on holiday items, according to a Shop.org survey. The jaw-dropping statistic has surely prompted online media gurus to cry tears of joy and I can confidently guarantee that the tears of happiness will keep pouring! The average amount online shoppers are expected to spend will continue to increase year over year – and the growth will not be reliant on the hard work of a traditional media.

Traditional media was never designed from the ground up to be targetable and personalized for every consumer. Signs are forecasting that digital will overtake television soon. It’s not traditional media’s fault, but there is little the traditional platforms can do to survive the digital wave. Primarily, traditional media can’t prove to an advertiser that its platform will lead to an actual conversion or sale for an advertising campaign. Brands are looking for that confirmation, and digital is providing the results. For a better performing marketing campaign, use marketing media that is based on performance – the digital and programmatic space.

Because of the high stakes and promising results, this is one of the most critical times in the digital advertising industry (I dare someone to state otherwise). It’s more important than ever for brands and retailers to avoid finishing last in programmatic this year.

In the spirit of kicking off the holiday season early, here are a few New Year’s resolutions to help retailers and brands ensure a better, smarter and jollier retail season than last year:

Make Black Friday An Everyday Event

Black Friday is a great idea in theory, but the execution is off. Every year, we’re bombarded with early morning news coverage from big-box retailer parking lots and shoddy cell phone videos of crazed customers. This kind of strange behavior and imagery is not necessary for the modern-day, everyday Black Friday experience.

Yet it’s understandable how Black Friday garnered so much popularity over the years. Wouldn’t you be tempted by a Black Friday special for a $700 TV marked down to $150?

If retailers want to foster stronger relationships with a loyal customer base, they must first reform the holiday shopping experience. Treating customers poorly isn’t the correct method. That includes making them wait in line and all but guaranteeing they will engage in push-and-shove matches to get items off the shelf.

Instead, let’s take the best of Black Friday and offer the best deals to our most loyal shoppers over a longer period of time. Make them feel important by holding these items for them, rather than making them wait in line with everyone else at 4 a.m.

If retailers spent as much time learning more about their customers as they did on the special treatment over the extended holiday season, they would reap the benefits. Making those loyal customers happier will do more for your brand long-term than selling a few thousand televisions one day a year ever will.

Retire The Term ‘Doorbuster Deals’

Let’s be honest here: The only retail doors you should be “doorbusting” on the day after Thanksgiving are those of the neighborhood liquor store after spending the entire day with your in-laws.

This is an area where digital commerce can trump any competition and rein in a new customer loyalty initiative. For example, retailers can start by offering online-only specials that can be picked up in-store, which will bring customers to stores while eliminating the traditional stampede opening.

In early November, some retailers got smart by offering “pre-Black Friday” deals on many top items offered on Black Friday, such as TVs and video games. While these offers are not as heavily discounted as on the actual Black Friday, it is a great first step.

Do Not Use The Term ‘Cyber Monday,’ Under Any Circumstances

Great marketers are well aware that Cyber Monday is no longer a single day, but rather a 24/7 operation. Today’s modern digital marketers are working harder for clients, selling their products online by advance targeting and measuring techniques. Who would have thought the innovation of this digital industry would allow advertisers to bid on people individually or retarget them back to ecommerce sites, all of which amounts to a $10 billion programmatic market in 2014, according to the IAB?

The US Postal Service, UPS and FedEx say they will deliver more than 1.3 billion packages this holiday season. Each US household will receive 11 packages. That means that someone in each household (or at least their neighbor) is ordering online at some point during the season.

So there you have it, my way-too-early list of New Year’s Resolutions for next year’s holiday shopping season.

Only you have the power to help stop the Cyber Monday or Black Friday buzzwords from creeping into holiday promotions stories. Before we sunset those overused buzzwords, we should thank them for their service to our industry – especially Cyber Monday, as it helped transform our digital advertising world by dedicating a day for everyone to shop online. Cyber Monday has motivated marketers to get customers to buy their products without pitching a tent outside the store.

As Rome was not built in a day, remember that your entire fiscal year won’t be decided on a single day of sales on the day after Thanksgiving. You thought I’d say Black Friday, didn’t you? Can’t. That buzzword’s retired.

Follow Lung Huang (@Lung_Huang), dunnhumby (@dunnhumby) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter. 

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