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Who’s Afraid of Black Friday?

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Black Friday is so successful because it turns an ordinary ‘sale’ into a spectacle. Consumers are excited to save, and to be a part of the crowd.

“Black Friday is more like the Hunger Games, and the winner gets £10 off a toaster.” – Paul Boross

Be afraid. Be very afraid. The con is on!

When you look at it with your Humourology head on, you’ll see the funny side and realise that we can all fall prey to the power of language that can shift our state. Just like a joke can lead you down one path and then pull the rug out (misdirection and mixed metaphors!) to make you laugh so can the mass manipulators make you feel like you are missing out.

But don’t panic!

Using your Humourology habits, you can take back control and laugh in the face of the fascinating but freaky Friday phenomenon.

Where did the Phenomenon Begin?

The history of the manufactured sales event is just as terrifying as the modern-day riots that pit consumers against each other in hopes for 10% discounts on unnecessary gizmos and gadgets. Black Friday’s history hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where hordes of American football fans came into town for the annual Army-Navy football game. The city named the day “Black Friday” because it was considered an annual tragedy for the citizens of Philly.

Soon after, retailers attempted to bring a positive spin to the day and dupe consumers by offering discounts on Black Friday. The trend caught on and by the 1990s retailers across the globe offered discounts on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Black Friday went on to spawn other retail events like small business Saturday and Cyber Monday and eventually (hopefully) Humourology Wednesday.

What does the Psychology of Humourology have to Say?

The most effective psychological tool that is often leveraged on Black Friday is a phenomenon called FOMO or the fear of missing out. Retailers offer limited time deals that consumers can only get in-store on the day. Companies spend months of preparation and millions of dollars to convince consumers to attempt murder for 20% off a slightly larger tv.

Black Friday thrives off the idea of manufactured scarcity. Despite having warehouses full of useless “stuff”, companies advertise that there are only 10 limited-edition whatchamacallits to incite riots at your local shops. The only thing that are actually in short supply during the holiday are humour and sanity.

Black Friday is also an effective sales tactic because it offers consumers an escape from one of the most stressful times of the year, the holidays. Many consumers say that they partake in Black Friday sales because it offers a stress release when they need it most. If thousands of people need to brave mass hordes of discount-obsessed drones just to escape their family, they might need more than a discounted IPAD to escape their problems.

Retail Madness

Skip the Black Friday Riots with a Smile

Black Friday is such a successful sales tactic because it turns an ordinary ‘sale’ into a spectacle. Not only are consumers excited to save, but they are excited to be a part of the crowd. Shopping isn’t what makes Black Friday special, it’s the feeling of being part of the spectacle for better or for worse.

Humourology gives us the tools to see the absurdity in the manufactured event. When we approach life with a sense of humour it becomes easier to prick the bubble of pomposity that surrounds consumer culture. When we give permission for us to laugh at ourselves, it becomes clear that the things we want and the things we need are not one and the same.

Can you laugh at the comedy of consumer control?

When we approach business with humourology we can see that connecting with our clientele is far more beneficial than a single day of mass-manipulation. Instead of working in manufactured scarcity we can help those around us with an abundance of kindness. With Humourology, you can evade the riots and overcome the fear of Black Friday by learning what’s really important – families, friends and fun. NB. There was another ’f’ but I’m far to felicitous to fall into that fallow field.

Of course not all sales are a con, there are plenty of small independent businesses who use these sales as a kick start for Christmas. Being discerning about who gets our custom, finding small local companies to support can be a positive step and a push back against the manufactured panic by the big boys.

I’ll be celebrating Black Friday in my traditional way…. by completely ignoring it. However, having said that, I do have my eye on a new 4K TV! 😉

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