A columnist for the Detroit Free Press has exposed the marketing scam of the century: “Cyber Monday.” Mark W. Smith writes,
The term Cyber Monday was coined in 2005 by the National Retail Federation, and its Shop.org e-commerce arm, as a way to mark the behavior that many people shopped at work the Monday after Thanksgiving because they lacked a broadband Internet connection at home.
That barrier, largely, is gone for the masses.
So why is the day still such a big deal? Smith surmizes,
Gradually, as retailers began to push the Cyber Monday message — a way to continue the Black Friday retail hype — consumer spending habits began to change.
This happened not because the bend of the universe did so organically, but because retailing groups decided that it should be so.
He calls it “a completely concocted holiday, built on a myth, that has managed to wrest billions of dollars from American consumers.”
While there may be some truth to Smith’s view, the expose is not so keen. Marketers can market all they want, but if people remain unwilling to buy, it won’t matter at all. In the end, the only persons to blame for consumerism are the consumers.
If all it takes for Americans to dump billions of dollars is a little media hype—driven by whomever, who cares?—then that says more about the lack of self-control among consumers than greed among retailing groups.
But the truth may be more fundamental: it may be a good ol’ case of seizing a ripe opportunity. Seeing the potential of an online version of Black Friday—at a safe distance from all the melees and fistfights—perhaps retailers simply began offering similar sales and bargains on that day, honestly earning the business of consumers to the point of record sales in 2010.
What if Cyber Monday is just really good business on both ends? It should be welcomed and not attacked as corporate greed.
Even Smith sees it: “If you find a good deal online today, go for it.”
Go a step further. Even if it is a good deal, if you don’t need it, don’t buy it. Then maybe you can actually save some money, and get some work done on Monday like you’re supposed to.