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Trapped into buying, or aren't we?

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

About why Black Friday & Cyber Monday are over their peaks

Black Friday and Cyber Monday nearly seem to have reached the peak of their digital craziness in Western Europe this year, and yet I want to emphasise that it is already past its peak. The "price-hungry" rationing of products that you actually do not need does not really feel good deep down. The thought of the fleet of delivery vans that will cross our streets this week brings up a bit of guilt in all of us. The many packaging materials will soon be piling up again in our storage room, alongside the other boxes from Coolblue, Zalando and

When products end up in a price war, this creates little added value for the consumer. If price is the most important persuasion factor for a purchase, then it means that there are many equally good alternatives. Price war also offers little added value for companies, because the margins are reduced to a minimum. And yet, Black Friday and Cyber Monday might seem like the only possible alternative today? Or not?

In 2011, Patagonia placed an advertisement in the Times entitled "Don't buy this Jacket". The ad detailed what the ecological footprint was of their top-selling fleece cardigan and advised consumers to think twice before purchasing it. What back then seemed to many as a marketing stunt to get into the press, however, was a deep-rooted belief. The company stands for what they call a "responsible economy", where it is literally the responsibility of companies to always have the best interest for society. At first this may look a lot like the many empty boxes that come with Corporate Social Responsibility used by companies to polish their own image. But this wasn't the case for Patagonia. To reinforce their authentic conviction, Patagonia has on several occasions fully transferred the profits of their Black Friday sales to ecological organisations. The company also brings door-to-door services in the United States to patch up Patagonia clothing so that new ones are less likely to be purchased.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday do not face the same "Flygskam" or fly-shaming today, as has recently occurred for short plane journeys. But initiatives such as that of KLM, which just before the purchase of plane ticket recommends train alternatives, are starting to find their way more and more on days like last weekend. Brands and stores refuse more often to participate in this unnecessary price war with a catastrophic impact on the environment. Dille and Kamille in Belgium, for example, donate part of their profits made on Black Friday to green initiatives.

The impact of Black Friday and Cyber Monday on our health is neither completely unknown. In Western Europe we very rarely face situations that lead to verbal or even physical violence as we’ve seen happening it in the United States. But we all recognise the stress that comes with being able to get hold of that one product with that exceptional discount. Whether it is in districts of a store or on a website that is approaching the server capacity limits, we are literally raising our own blood pressure. We tire our eyes because of the many hours behind the computer screen, or literally risk our lives by rushing our way to the store that is about to close. To then often be left with a mixed feeling after that impulsive purchase. Impulse buying is often bad for the financial, social, psychological well-being of people. One can feel cheated by the brand that has tricked them into purchasing it. It creates a negative image about the brand or company. The notion that people with psychological problems are potentially even more sensitive to impulsive purchases, undoubtedly aggravates the condemnation of brands that over-focus on this.

Of course, people often buy with "their own wallet" in mind. But more than ever this comes with a sense of guilt. We live in an era where we want to be the best possible person. Search terms on Google for the word "good" have grown exponentially in recent years and were enough for Google to baptise 2018 into the year of "doing good". People want to do well; live well; make good choices; feel good ... Because of this we live more consciously than ever. And as a consumer, this translates into a tendency to buy more and more responsibly. Driven by (social) media, and by the people around us, we are more aware of the impact of our decisions on nature, society, or our own health. As a result, people look for brands and companies that help them “do the right thing”: With regard to health, this can mean that you choose a brand that helps you make healthy choices (Healthusiasm trend); For a good society you want brands that support diversity and inclusion (Societeam trend); To protect our planet, you can appreciate it if brands, for example, do not participate in Black Friday (Ecotional Trend).

Even though it may seem that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are enjoying their greatest popularity, conscious consumption is the trend that companies will focus more on in the future. In my book HEALTHUSIASM, I elaborate on why people are more conscious about their health more than ever; how companies should interpret this trend, and what people actually expect from companies, organisations and brands.

Christophe Jauquet is a health marketing expert who inspires consumer businesses and healthcare organisations around the world. With his experience at the intersection of healthcare, marketing and technology, he guides companies and brands to remain relevant in the light of this Healthusiasm trend.


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