Black Friday Best Buy Campout

We’re only days away from another Thanksgiving Day celebration, spent with friends and families, eating lots of great food and watching football. That also means that retailers are just days away from another dose of Black Friday chaos.

Last year, after watching people pitch their tents in front of Best Buy stores as early as eight o’clock the night before Black Friday, I recognized an opportunity that retailers were failing to take full advantage of.

Consumers were lining up outside, weathering the cold and waiting hours for stores to open. Why not use this as an opportunity to engage with consumers and create a branded experience? I boldly suggested that retailers should start treating Black Friday more like a tailgating party with their fans, instead of the simple discount war it has become.

Best Buy, for example, could implement any or all of these ideas to create a completely different Black Friday experience:

  • Hire a DJ spinning the newest music releases. Throw in some Christmas tracks here or there.
  • Pull in a huge Best Buy bus with wide screen HD plasma TV’s on the side.
  • Have a gaming tournament.
  • Hand out fleece Best Buy blankets and sweatshirts to the crowd.
  • Serve Thanksgiving turkey legs and hot cocoa.
  • Draw a crowd and spark the curiosity of passerbys.

I received some flack for this idea because some see Black Friday shoppers as nothing more than crazies in search of the lowest prices. Why would a retailer waste their time and money on shoppers that have no clear loyalties?

This is a valid concern, but I think it misses some larger opportunities. Creating a new Black Friday experience would do three things for the retailer that is brave enough to try it:

1. Change the Game

Any retailer that chose to be the first to implement this would instantly change the rules. It would take the sole focus off of discounts and put it on a unique brand experience with the retailer instead.

2. Stimulate and Earn Word of Mouth
Black Friday is already a heavily talked about event. Breaking the mold would put the retailer at the front of the conversation. Instead of small mentions scattered across the web and news, think headlines.

3. Convert to Loyalists
This type of event would create a very different experience of value for consumers, and would give people a reason to interact and engage with the retailer brand beyond price. This is the perfect stage for converting this largely un-loyal group to brand loyalist.

And as I stated last year, “At the very least it would show customers that you care.”

So are there any retailers out there that are brave enough to break the mold?

Photo via: Paul Garland