November 12, 2015

Retailers Evolving Shopping Season With Changing Culture-Economic Impacts

Retailers are always competing to be the first to reach our wallets.  Black Friday used to mean opening stores early in the morning on the day following Thanksgiving to jumpstart the holiday shopping frenzy. Now, we have more and more stores, like Walmart, opening on Thanksgiving to compete for our holiday spending money.

Internationally, we see a rapidly changing holiday shopping scene. In China, the online retailer giant, Alibaba, set the one-day sales record of $14.3 billion on Singles Day, November 11, 2015, which is the Chinese equivalent of Cyber Monday in America. Well-known retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Saks are now also bringing the American concept of Black Friday shopping to Chinese consumers.

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The writing is on the wall; US retailers will continue to evolve the holiday shopping season by catering to the pockets of the population with diverse culture and socio-economic status. Traditional retailer segmentation based on geographicdemographic, behavioral, and psychographic data is no longer sufficient for understanding shoppers from different cultures. For example, many Chinese natives don’t have the concept of kicking-off their holiday shopping or taking vacation on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Their shopping habits (needs, wants, and budgets) are atypical from most U.S. shoppers. Many Chinese consumers prefer shopping online and they know that the biggest ecommerce discounts are available on Singles Day.  In addition, they may not be as motivated to line up in front of stores early in the morning to get the best deals since they commonly get their best offers online. As a result, most retailers cater to the Chinese by continuing to offer their best deals online.

Here is another angle for understanding shoppers from different cultures:

  • Cultural Segmentation leverages the needs and wants from different cultures. For example, in order to reach the wallets of Chinese customers, more and more retailers provide Chinese festive sales. During these sales, retailers frequently offer specially designed festive products. For example, Macy’s has featured products such as luggage sets in red, which is a traditional color of good fortune. Since cultural preferences affect consumer choices, retailers should customize Black Friday by paying attention to relevant cultural data.

After all, companies are not only concerned about “going from red to black” on Black Friday, they are also focused on increasing revenue year-after-year for their investors. Since cultural considerations in marketing strategy can expand the consumer base and increase revenue, we can expect retailers to continue to find new ways to get all of us to spend each holiday shopping season.

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