Black Friday has undoubtedly become synonymous with the beginning of the holiday shopping season. "The biggest shopping day of the year" equal parts manufactured hype, social experiment, spectator and participatory sport has become a key part of Thanksgiving and Christmas experiences. In recent years there's been a steady decline in activity surrounding Black Friday and multicultural millennials although not the only are one of the major causes of this decline. Although still part of mainstream culture Black Friday as we've come to know it is dead and multicultural millennials killed it. The reasons are numerous, but for the purposes of this discussion, we'll focus on a few key ones. Millennials as one of the driving forces behind the death of retail stores, social values with an emphasis on expression and personal freedom, and a culture that cherishes experiences over goods and the ability to share those experiences via social media.
Retail chains have been steadily declining for some time now, but more recently we've seen a free fall with powerhouses like Macy's, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart all announcing store closures and a model of retraction when it comes to physical retail locations. Switching the emphasis to online stores and eCommerce. Multicultural Millennials a demographic with enormous purchasing power aren't frequenting these physical locations like cohorts of young people before them. With older generations who have a more discerning taste, and after the crash of 08 either have the less disposable money or are just use more discretion about how they spend their funds, millennials are a natural shift for retailers. For them, the idea of going to a store or mall seems antiquated and daunting. Categories from Electronics, apparel, even fast food can all be ordered and delivered in record times with little to no shift in costs all from the screen of your phone. Companies like Amazon have made the shopping experience so accessible providing most items you need along with suggesting other items you might like easily searchable and cost-effective, the idea of taking the time to go to a store and go up and down aisles until you find your desired item seems like a ritual from a less sophisticated time.
Millennials place a high value on personal freedom and time and also value being able to express themselves freely. In the last few years, retailers have increasingly become more aggressive in their Black Friday tactics which have caused controversy. Actually opening or staying open on Thanksgiving day, opening at midnight or 5 am Black Friday morning may have seemed like a good marketing/PR technique, but the controversy it created about how companies treat their workers demanding that they come in those times and not providing them with additional resources including pay has been significant. Also the fact that companies have tried to stifle the voices of employees and labor advocates who stand up for these workers rights and incidents of fights and violent stampedes over flat screen televisions and discounted kids toys on what was originally a time to be spent with family thinking and sharing with each other and giving thanks is also a turn off. Multicultural millennials sympathize with workers taken away from the time with friends and family b/c they have to work. Not only do they sympathize but they share that sentiment with their peers until it becomes the dominant thought or talking point.
Millennials are unique in the fact they've come of age in a time where "sharing" is the dominant culture. For them the best thing to share is experiences. Partying with friends or family, attending a concert or event, a weekend trip or extended vacation in an exclusive locale etc. Sharing and the reaction (Likes, re-tweets, comments) to what's shared has essentially become a currency that's extremely valuable to this demographic. Black Fridays attraction has always been about the savings while the overall experience itself leaves little to be desired. In a culture where the dominant behavior is sharing of cool great experiences, Black Friday just doesn't make the cut for multicultural millennials. Not to mention to a point made earlier all of the perceived savings and discounts are probably available in one form or another either on cyber Monday or for that matter all year round.
Moving forward Black Friday is DOA and we have the millennial cohort to thank ( or despise depending on your view) for that. Valuing shared experiences, personal freedom and freedom of expression along with a diminished need to physically visit a retail location to get what you want to buy all have contributed to this fact. Have you seen or experienced other factors that support this view, feel free to share in the comments below we always appreciate a discussion with our readers.