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The Myth of Cyber Monday – #CyberMonday Appears to be…

“Cyber Monday” is the Monday after Thanksgiving and is commonly reported to be the start of the online holiday shopping season or the biggest online shopping day of the year, both of which are untrue. The theory purports that consumers do a great deal of their real world shopping on “Black Friday” (another myth about the Friday after Thanksgiving) and when they return to work on Monday, they start their online shopping.

The origin of the term is unclear; probably a media fabrication in their attempt to create a story where one didn’t exist. Sure, more and more of our holiday shopping is moving online and there is definitely a online holiday shopping season, but the start of the season is not as clearly defined as the media would like. They already have a term and day, Black Friday, to describe the start of the holiday shopping season, so they should also have the same for the online shopping season, right? In their quest for the story, the media created Cyber Monday.

In reality, there is no single day that kicks off the season. Online shopping ramps up from the middle/end of November and runs through about a week before Christmas.

The Monday after Thanksgiving was convenient and made more sense years ago when consumers didn’t have high speed internet access at home. The rational for this is that consumers didn’t want to shop on a slow speed dial-up connection at home, so they waited until they could use their employer’s high speed connection. Now that most consumers have a high speed connection, this rational makes less sense. It is probably more likely that after a big Thanksgiving dinner, consumers will get online and get a head start on their online shopping instead of waiting until Monday when they need to get caught up on their work after the four day layoff.

The trend in consumer behavior has also been to ease into the holiday shopping season. We can measure this with the appearance of holiday decorations and merchandise appearing earlier and earlier every year. You can now find some Christmas décor before Halloween in some stores. It wouldn’t be there if consumers weren’t buying it. The same goes online as we ease into the holiday season as we can now find holiday décor year round online.

As far as the biggest online shopping day goes, that occurs between one and two weeks before Christmas as most of us procrastinate, waiting as long as possible. In our neighborhood stores, the biggest shopping day is usually the last Saturday before Christmas. Our deadline for completing our shopping is the last day that we can have something shipped so that it arrives before Christmas, about a week before. That deadline isn’t that important either as we can always get a last minute gift card which is also prolonging the holiday shopping season as more of our shopping occurs after Christmas when we have those gift cards in hand.

Hopefully the media will realize that “Cyber Monday” doesn’t really exist and we won’t be hearing all about it this year.

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Black Friday – bah humbug

It’s black Friday. For the past few months, many institutions have been clamoring for your attention because they want your dollars. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday. This time of year it doesn’t end until January 1st. Then everything falls off – sales and donations.

I’ve never worked in retail public relations, but I have worked in nonprofit public relations. This time of year is crazy time. The time when you can work weeks on end without a day off. Why? Nonprofits generally make 60 percent of their budget within these last few months. People think about giving more during this time of year and nonprofits have to capitalize on it, if they plan to continue their mission. This is especially true if they don’t take government funding.

I’m sure nonprofits and retailers marketing dollars increase during these last several months. I know in the nonprofit I worked work, every dollar spent, they were gamer, orbweavermake $6. I’m sure there is some equation that retail follows as well. That is why we seem so bombarded with advertisements, mail, email, commercials, banner ads, etc. They want your attention and it works most of the time.

Although, I’ve seen the ads, I really haven’t paid much attention. Today, I looked through my emails, went to the websites of the store I was interested in but frankly, I was disappointed in most of the sale items. The deals weren’t really deals and if they were, they were already sold out. I did find Razer’s orbweaver for $40 off for my gamer husband Shakeboxing. That’s the lowest price I’ve seen it during the past year so I bought it. The only other thing I saw that I wanted was a $88 refurbished laptop but it was sold out. So marketing and PR professionals, working extremely long hours to help their brand successful, failed on this customer. The products and the prices were bah humbug!

I feel for the countless hours public relations and marketing professionals are are putting in. I’ve been there. I have empathy. It’s exhausting but if you want me to grab my dollars, you have to do better. Besides, the holidays is better spend on personal gifts for our loved ones. They matter more!

Happy holidays,

Sharon Couts