It's Cyber Monday—Yay! What's that you say? "Nothing but a marketing myth designed to boost pre-Holiday sales?" And Black Friday is, what, a day when we're genetically predisposed to camping out in a 33-degree wintery mix for a midnight sale on Nerf cannons at Toys 'R' Us? It's all marketing. And while Cyber Monday may never be the new Black Friday, 2009's sales figures make it look a little more real.
Black Friday, while itself the product of marketing, is a logical time for stores to launch sales. Consumers generally have the day off and feel like a stroll about the mall to work off some of the massive dinner they ate the prior night. Cyber Monday, by contrast, comes after the holiday, when everyone's usually back at work, bloated and tired from driving eight hours home from grandma's house and already stressing the backlog of unanswered e-mail at work.
For years, Cyber Monday has been controversial, numbers-wise, too. In 2005, when the term was coined by the Shop.org Web site as a promotion, Business Week wrote: "Cyber Monday isn't nearly the biggest online shopping or spending day of the year. It ranks only as the 12th-biggest day historically, according to market researcher comScore Networks. It's not even the first big day of the season."
But last year ComScore's figures showed it ranked in third place for the year's biggest sales day. This year e-retailers are once again updating their online stores with discounts to try to attract another wave of consumer spending. And as the light glimmers at the end of Recession Tunnel and retailer report a successful Black Friday, we may well expect ComScore's figures to move Cyber Monday even higher up the list.
So at what point does an entirely made-up marketing event become something real (for whatever definition of real you choose to accept in this Internet world)? Well, surely Black Friday's sales events started off, informally, in the same way. And here's a bit of a left-field piece of news to set you thinking: Britons are expected to spend a whopping £300 million today. Yup—that's British consumers, living in a nation which doesn't even celebrate Thanksgiving.