7 days and counting until one of the biggest days in retail… Black Friday. It is the one day a year that businesses slash prices and create pandemonium across the country. For my family, it has always signaled the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Being the procrastinator that I am, I usually wait until the week before Christmas to begin my massive purchasing, however, this year (since I won’t be working) I have decided to join the masses and engage in the frenzy.
Marketers spend months planning for the next 6 weeks in retail. It is the time of year that yields the largest profit. I have always wondered, why then do they offer so many discounts?
Many small boutique retailers offer gifts with purchase, which makes more sense to me from a marketing standpoint. If you purchase something then you get something for free. However, the retailers that offer deeply discounted merchandise confuse me. I suppose large conglomerates like Wal-Mart can afford to participate in these sales.
I have been working in retail for over five years and every year the company I work for provides the customers with a GPW. Once we run out, that’s all folks! It is so interesting to watch consumers line up for hours in the cold, rain, snow and sleet for a free item or a discount. Our country is obsessed with saving money, no matter how much or how little.
In Public Relations, this idea of profit is not one we focus on, however, in marketing creating an increase in revenue is of the utmost importance. It would be interesting if PR firms gave a discount on their services for Black Friday, just in case some catastrophe happened like the Wal-Mart fiasco a few years ago, when shoppers were trampled trying to buy Xbox 360s. Several retailers have had very dark Black Fridays. Another example would be Toys R’ Us. In 2008 two people were killed in a shooting in Palm Desert, California. These incidents create negative reflections on these businesses and oftentimes cause tragedy during the joyous holiday season. These incidents could easily be avoided and perhaps the marketing industry should think twice about the way in which they are marketing the sales this season.
Hopefully the PR crisis’ are over for the holiday season are minimally and people can focus on the real reason for the season, food, family and being thankful.
Target has to be one of the most brilliant companies in our marketplace. Since re-branding and re-positioning themselves after Wal-Mart burst on the scene, Target has consistently made solid choices that have paid off whereas many of their competitors have failed miserably. This past week, the Target website crashed due to the overwhelming response from the latest partnership with Missoni. Although the site’s failure can be viewed as a negative from a PR standpoint, from a business perspective, they must be doing something right!
Target began their designer collaborations in March of 2009 with their initial partnership with the late Alexander McQueen. Other noted collaborations include William Rast (a brand whose team of designers include Justin Timberlake), Converse, and Jean Paul Gaultier; all of which experienced tremendous success. This October Target will continue their tradition with new partnerships. This initiative is a push for the holiday season and will focus on designers of accessories. Albertus Swanepoel, a South African hat designer who has designer for some of the industry’s most noted names, such as Marc Jacobs and Alexander Wang. Target will also pair with Dana Kellin, A L.A-based high-end jewelry designer, this holiday season. This program is one of the many ways Target has set itself apart from the crowd. Target, oftentimes referred to as “Tarjay”, states on their website that one of their core concerns is design. This central value has been integrated into many aspects of the company. Many of the product lines Target carries, including house wares and food products, are off-the-cuff. They are products that you can not get at other places. For example, Target was one of the only, if not the only retailer carrying a line of ‘True Blood’ inspired merchandise. These items were highly coveted as the shows popularity remains through the roof.
Some of their competitors have not been so lucky. Kmart, whose success was legendary through the 1990s is relatively obsolete in this decade. After the launch of Wal-Mart and it’s raging success, Kmart fell between the cracks and now from a public perspective is seen as a “cheap low rent” store. Even their partnership with domestic goddess Martha Steward did not yield an increase in traffic and sales. Target’s main competitor is Wal-Mart. Obviously, Wal-Mart leads the pack when it comes to discount stores. However, there are many consumers who would rather pay the often-times less than a dollar difference in price for the perceived better service, atmosphere and quality that Target offers. Researchers have found that the marketing team at Target has strategically laid out many of their stores in a way that will create a certain feeling in shoppers while in the store. From the wattage of the light bulbs to the brightness of the tiled floor, Target aims to maintain their loyal customer base.
Target continues to generate buzz around affordable products with luxurious quality. This has allowed the brand to position itself in such a way that they no are no longer seen as a discount store.