- Red is the New Black. Black Friday got its name as the day of the year when retailers' annual ledger books went from red to black - or from in-debt to making a profit. This year a sharp cutback in consumer spending will leave many retailers in the red zone long after Black Friday has come and gone. Additionally, early sale pricing and consequently slimmer margins will make profits harder to come by.
- Your biggest gift this year will be from retailers: massive reductions. Every day a new deal, each one with an expiration date intended to inspire purchase panic. Who knew you had so many "friends & family" in retail? Retailers started "valued customer" discounts, percentage off the store, and other limited-time promotions in October. The weekend before Thanksgiving is the kick-off to permanent, escalating discounts and the official beginning of full-on retailer price wars. After Christmas Sales will occur before Christmas and there won't be much left for procrastinators.
- Cyber Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…. and don't forget to text! Retailers are using emails, texts, twitters and non-stop promotions in this year's 24/7 courtship of the consumer. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are shopping seasons this year. With 5 fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 99% of retailers are planning at least one 24-hour event and boosting up incentives to shop 'round-the-clock on the Internet.
- Nostalgia, Goodness, Simplicity and Hope - or Humor and Fun. These are the marketing themes of the year and created to conjure up a more positive mood to counter the anxiety that keeps wallets snapped shut.
- This year's "hot gift" is barely lukewarm. It's practical. Retailers haven't done much to inspire shoppers either; they ordered cautiously leaving no room for that unusual and delightful surprise that's become the "hot gift" in past years. Since gift cards don't go on sale, they'll be given less frequently than they were last year - although they're still the most wanted gift of the season. The most unwanted gifts this year? Socks, ties, candles and flowers.
Kit Yarrow is an award-winning consumer research psychologist and a professor of psychology and business. Kit chairs the Psychology Department of Golden Gate University where she has a joint appointment as a professor of both psychology and business. She's been a guest professor of consumer behavior at universities around the world, from Slovenia to Malaysia, including the Helsinki School of Economics and U.C. Berkeley. Kit's book, Gen buY, will be published by Jossey-Bass/Wiley on 2009.
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