Monday, November 26, 2007

they call it cyber monday. . .

. . . but Tuesday’s just as bad. . . as is Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and about nine other days.

Today is supposed to be the biggest online shopping day of the year—the “e”-quivalent of “Black Friday,” the purportedly biggest brick and mortar shopping day of the year—problem is, it’s not (the heaviest online shopping comes much closer to Christmas). So, why are we subjected to a half-week’s worth of news cycles telling us all about the big shopping day that isn’t?

This really isn’t a hard one to sleuth. As BusinessWeek reported two years ago, the term and the idea of “Cyber Monday” were both dreamed up by, a marketing group representing—surprise, surprise—online retailers.

I am not amazed nor particularly aghast that a marketing group would invent and disseminate such hokum—hell, that’s what marketing associations are for, after all. No, as is often the case with me, I am pissed at the establishment media for taking the bait.

It’s bad enough that local news is chockablock with VNRs, and that the “new” Nightline has become an almost completely PR-driven infotainment wasteland, but do I really have to read about where the hot e-deals are going to be in the pages (OK, e-pages) of the New York Times?

TWO years ago, Cyber Monday was a marketing gimmick in search of shoppers. This year, it seems to be a genuine trend that retailers have embraced.

While that lead sentence makes it seem like the story will be debunking or at least taking stock of the marketing-driven myth, it really doesn’t. It has the requisite quote toward the end that sneers at the “event,” but most of this article is end-on-end free advertising. . . just like all the local TV newscasts carried over the weekend.

So, score one for the marketers. Though it’s not a big victory—the lazy-ass media makes it so damn easy. Seriously, guys, gals, reporters, editors—is there nothing more important you could have gone with in place of this? Nothing? Seriously?

The other really surprising bit about this—to me—is that so many people buy into this buying. I did not shop for gifts on Friday, and I am not going to e-shop today. Why in god’s name would I? After a Thursday filled with turkey and cheer, what could be less appealing than getting up before dawn to wait in the cold for the right to get elbowed and kicked by hundreds of people worried that there won’t be enough flat panel TVs to go around?

Plus, assuming you had a lot of purchases of this sort to make, assuming you were worried about getting a good deal, and assuming you had been listening to all this hype, then you’ve got to realize that these “black” days have got to be some of the worst days to shop. Not only do you have to worry about crowds, or bad service, or heavy traffic on the roads or on a website, the fact remains that retailers are all but saying outright that deals will get better as we get closer to Christmas (hell, sometimes they are just saying it outright). With no hot toy this season and no expected shortages in any of the hot categories, what is the rush?

Maybe more folks care about the “news” than I thought.

And, while we’re on the subject of online shopping, here’s another thing I don’t get:
Anybody want to explain this to me?

(cross-posted on The Seminal)

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