Here are some thoughts to consider long before that Thanksgiving meal settles. Thanks to KAMA member Kathleen Atkins for contributing this guest post:
Last year, I documented the day after Thanksgiving shopping madness I have annually participated in and has been dubbed by retailers and consumers as the biggest shopping day of the year — Black Friday. The article was based on a tweet from @LauraLPotts: “Black Friday is like zombie apocalypse: you’re either one of them, or you’re locked inside praying that loved ones don’t get trampled.”
This evening, as I’m scouring the Internet doing my research, I’m prepping and flipping through Black Friday ads that have been pre-released, scanned, and posted on various web sites. I’m beginning to formulate my plan of attack.
But this year is different.
Nearly all of the stores are now opening at midnight or earlier. Gone are the days of 5 a.m. store openings I was accustomed to in the “early days.” Black Friday has evolved into Black Thursday, a round-the-clock, nationwide, sleep-deprived shopping massacre.
Black Thursday is the new Black Friday.
I will be among the thousands lined up on a sidewalk or in a parking lot with red blood-colored cranberry sauce stains on my shirt, and everyone will be facing the store’s front door just waiting for the doors to open. Traffic will be at a standstill in Turkey Creek and West Town Mall, and the struggle to obtain the best deals has never been so perilous.
The zombie shopping fever has spread, and I’m afraid it’s hit a pandemic level. I can’t help but wonder, what would Rick from The Walking Dead do?
Zombies in The Walking Dead are quite similar to Black Thursday shoppers:
- They devour any living thing (deal) they can catch.
- They never sleep.
- They are more dangerous in large numbers.
- Loud noises attract large herds of them.
- They stand still or shuffle around rather slowly. However when in pursuit, they move much more quickly.
- They may turn what would normally be a harmless household item into a weapon.
As I prepare to head out into the darkness the evening of Black Thursday, I will be double-knotting my tennis shoes and keeping in mind that the swiftest shoppers can be far more dangerous than the walkers roaming the earth.
After more than 100 years of canning goods and more than 20 years as a national brand, Bush Brothers & Co. has perfected its secret family recipe—in food products and marketing strategy. Scott Daniel, marketing director at Bush Brothers & Co., shared his company’s philosophy on giving customers what they want and doing it successfully at the April KAMA luncheon.
Add two cups of consumer research …
The “secret family recipe” that Bush Brothers & Co. uses as its marketing strategy starts with the consumer. The company’s immediate approach is to find something people want and find a way to make it in a great tasting and affordable way. How does Bush Brothers do that? Through millions of dollars spent on research each year. However, Daniel noted, “You do not need to have a million dollar budget to learn about your consumer.” He explained by mentioning several low budget ways to research a target audience including social media, surveys, ethnographies or even just talking to them—all methods marketers have at their fingertips.
Three tablespoons of open-mindedness …
“Avoid the marketer’s bias by looking outside your own lens when developing products,” said Daniel. Taking advantage of opportunities for engagement with your customers can prevent personal bias from affecting your marketing activities. Instead of doing what just works, do what your consumer wants. An example Daniel used was that if you talk to someone about baby food who doesn’t have kids, he or she is going to have a different opinion about how to reach the audience from what actually may be the correct way. We are all doing something in our business today that reflects our own personal ideas, and Daniel recommends we take a step back, look at research and visualize how the consumer wants to see a message.
A dash of promotion …
Most marketers struggle with promotion versus marketing. Daniel set a parameter that Bush Brothers follows and that the KAMA audience should follow, too. He said, “Promotion should be an element of your marketing plan, not how you go to market.” Since a promotion strategy just gets engagement, lift up a product or service that reflects your target’s needs and wants.
And sprinkle in fulfilling relationships.
Finally, make your customers proud of your relationship with them. If your brand delivers a fulfilling experience for your target audience, they will purchase your product no matter the price. An example given by Daniel was that, more often than not, Folgers will beat Starbucks in a blind taste test setting. However, when picking a brand, consumers will most often choose Starbucks because of the relationship the brand has formed.
Mix and serve immediately.
When cultivated, these elements can result in a marketing strategy that will really stand out. KAMA luncheon attendees all learned valuable lessons from Daniel this month, and we didn’t even need Duke, the iconic Bush Beans dog, there to spill the beans.
As I was waiting in line at the cash registers at Wal-Mart at 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 25, I saw this tweet from @LauraLPotts: “Black Friday is like zombie apocalypse: you’re either one of them, or you’re locked inside praying that loved ones don’t get trampled.”
Of course, I was “one of them.” I arrived at Wal-Mart in Oak Ridge at 8:30 p.m. the night before Black Friday with a team of five. We all had our hit list, cell phones charged, tennis shoes laced up tight, credit cards in pocket, and white knuckles clasping buggies.
A few of the rules from the movie Zombieland always apply to Black Friday shopping:
- Travel light.
- Clean socks.
- When in doubt, know your way out.
- The buddy system.
- Limber up.
A train of five buggies full of over-sized boxes and children’s toys rush out of Wal-Mart, dodging cars, late shoppers, and security guards. Our next stop: Target in Turkey Creek for midnight deals.
We arrive at Target in Turkey Creek to find a line all the way back to Wal-Mart. It reminded me of the line to Space Mountain at Disney World. It was worse than Cumberland Ave. after a UT win against Florida, and longer than the line to the Apple store on tax-free weekend.
All the shopping “zombies” were bundled up, with cell phones and advertising circulars in hand. Cars drove by and the passengers just stared, people took pictures of the crowds, and groups of shoppers huddled together with an occasional burst of laughter (Zombieland rule #32: enjoy the little things).
I kept looking for the crazy Target woman I had seen on the television commercials. She must have been at the front of the line.
We approached the entrance. A man in a red Target coat was blasting directives through a microphone while we were funneled into a maze of metal bike racks, squeezing everyone into a single-file line. We scurried as fast as we could to grab the one item on our hit list. As we were exiting, I notice that hundreds of people still hadn’t entered the store yet.
We arrive at Kohl’s in Farragut. We scurry inside, grab the items on our hit list, and then stand in line for two and a half hours. Kohl’s was the bottleneck in our Black Friday adventure. It was like I-40 on a Friday afternoon near Cedar Bluff.
After we left Kohl’s, we visited the remaining stores on our hit list until 6 a.m. Our cars were full. Success was ours. I slept like a log until 10 a.m., and headed back to Turkey Creek for round two. I felt like a zombie.