Black Friday and Food Monday

The past couple of years consumers have witnessed increasing adoption of the “Black Friday” sales concept by FMCG companies in Europe. This year has marked an all-time high in scrumptious offerings from a diverse set of material providers, ranging from small machine parts like vacuum cleaner dust bags to huge 4K OLED TVs.

To be blunt, I myself am sick of sales and organizations trying to sell me stuff. In the week leading up to Friday the bombardment of messages starts and it continues all the way up to Cyber Monday, only to repeat itself again around Christmas. More stuff, more consumption pushing.

Besides focusing on gifts, Christmas time also sees a regular boom concerning luxury food deals and adverts. The idea with discounts is that a resulting bigger turnover can compensate for the loss of margin, but while this may be true in practice, it also creates a damaging effect of value inflation for consumer goods in general. In effect, buying things outside of the holiday “Sale! Deal! Sale!!” shouting season stretching from around November 15th to January 15th makes one feel pretty dumb. There are always better deals to be had, so why buy anything at full price, ever?

The subsequent sentiment is that consumers will not feel rewarded during the sales, but rather feel cheated during the rest of the year, and forced to join the rat race. This is damaging enough for luxury goods, but then again they are not essential. Basic food products however are of vital importance and they have intrinsic value that should not be allowed to diminish by offering too much at too low a price. It’s damaging for the entire production chain that sees margin vaporize, and the discount system causes a warped sense of food value perception in consumers.

I believe this eventually leads to a wasteful attitude similar to the animal instinct people experience when eating at an “all you can eat” buffet restaurant, where there is always a surplus that we feel must be utilized to its full potential, even if it makes us sick in the process. It’s as if a collective mindlessness takes hold of our sense of moderation. With Black Friday type periods, the market will be saturated far too quickly and ends up ruined from burning too brightly.

It’s too early to tell, but it seems supermarkets are also starting to pick up on the Black Days. And who knows, maybe we’ll all be ravaging away vast amounts of turkey in our own version of Thanksgiving sooner rather than later, celebrating excess by relishing in its emptiness.

I will be shutting myself away from commerce for a while to make the concept of a good deal feel special again, because at the moment exposition leaves me feeling like a goose being force fed for liver growth. In short supply: fun, enjoyment, satisfaction, value appreciation. Back in stock: maybe next year.

Wouter Franken