Last Monday I happened to drive by the local Best Buy and saw tents set up outside, the beginning of the line for Black Friday. I’m sorry I didn’t stop to talk to the people. I’m interested in how people make decisions, of course, and I wondered how they had decided to spend four days camped next to a parking lot to save a few bucks. Did they take off from work? What were they buying and how much were they going to save?
Every decision to do something is a balancing act between what you are giving up (here, possibly vacation days) and what you are gaining (maybe a cheap television). On the surface, at least, this one is overwhelmingly negative. Yet there are people all over the country doing this. There must be more to it than this.
The only thing I’ve ever done like this was to sleep on a Pasadena sidewalk to bag a front row view of the Rose Parade. The added benefit there was an all-night party with all the other people doing the same thing. In fact, I slept through the parade and still thought it was worthwhile.
New Apple products will often bring in lines of people days before the items go on sale. Apple fans are almost religious in their devotion. Even as far back as the 80’s, Apple marketers were called “evangelists.” These events then become a meeting of the faithful. There is definitely a party atmosphere among like-minded people, with the hope that Steve Wozniak or some other Apple deity will show up. I would guess some people show up even if they don’t plan to buy anything.
So, is there a benefit in the very act of camping out and being one of the first through the doors? Or are the advertisers just really good in getting us to act irrationally?
I’d be interested in hearing from you if you camped out in anticipation of Black Friday. What did you give up to be there? What did you gain directly through your purchases? What else did you get out of the experience? Bragging rights? Adventure? Camaraderie?