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A second Black Friday

This time last year, Black Friday set the record in terms of retail revenue earned in a single 24-hour period. Another record was probably set with respect to total advertising dollars spent and promotional costs accrued. There’s no two ways around it — Black Friday is a feeding frenzy, although we’ll have to wait until the dust clears next week for any indication of whether this year will outperform last year’s blockbuster.

Amidst all this hoopla, I raise a question I’ve asked in the past: Why bother? With the vast sum of marketing messages lost in the noise and numerous retail goliaths offering steroidal savings, is this really an arena worth competing in? Maybe Black Friday has gotten too big for its own good. Maybe your marketing efforts would be better served by touting another off-holiday 24-hour period for your uber-cheap promotional package.

With this as a pretense, I’d like to propose the somewhat crazy idea of kicking off a second Black Friday. As the first one falls right after Thanksgiving, it is adroitly positioned to capture the maximum number of consumers whose mindsets have shifted towards the December holiday season and gift giving. It is said that a retail outlet will do anywhere from half to two-thirds of its business in the fourth quarter alone (thus turning the accounting ledgers from red to black and giving the Friday its moniker). Hence, in order for a second Black Friday to thrive, it would also have to appeal to this behavior pattern.

But alas, finding an appropriate date isn’t that simple. Marketing teams need time to launch their campaigns and get the wheels churning. Despite the alacrity of modern digital communications, buzz still takes time to build. And none of these actions can be executed prior to Cyber Monday because, again, there’s too much noise. So, even if plans are kicked off immediately after the Thanksgiving long weekend, you still need about a two- to three-week grace period to successfully broadcast your message.

Given these parameters, only two Fridays remain, and both have their quirks. As Christmas Day this year falls on a Wednesday, one is directly before the week bracketing this statutory holiday, and the other is a week beforehand, on Friday the 13th. As the weekend before Christmas is typically a hectic one filled with parties, procrastinating (and slightly desperate) shoppers and eager vacationers, any promotion at this time might succumb to a wholly different kind of noise. This leaves only the 13th. Throw whatever superstitious psychobabble at it, but I assert this two-weeks-before-Christmas date is a prime marketing vehicle.

And so I leave it with you. Given the maelstrom of sales promotions on the current Black Friday, would we benefit from designating a pseudo-secondary shopping holiday to be expertly timed shortly before Christmas? Even if the rallying cry isn’t heard across the world, could you, at the property level, find use for this date?

(Article published by Larry Mogelonsky in HOTELSmag on November 22, 2013)

Larry MogelonskyA second Black Friday