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TechInsider - Black Friday
In Holiday Shopping, There's No Substitute for Victory
By Miles Weston
 

Rest Up, Start Early-When the doors open on Black Friday sales, you want to be there fresh, refreshed, focused.  Keep your money/cards protected and smartphone firmly in hand to check quick sale changes and accuracy.  Get the item/items you have on your list and move on to the next outlet.  Do as much as you can online and the rest in line.

We paraphrased Douglas McArthur because it's the way we're approaching this year's Black Friday holiday shopping.  

It's us vs. them (forget the gazillion other folks online and waiting at the door). 'Them' - retailers and CE manufacturers - have a solid plan of attack to win even in a flat economy.



See, they have folks like the CEA (Consumer Electronics Association), their trade group, and the myriad of industry consulting and market research firms that have made a career out of figuring out how, why, where, what you buy.

Us?

We're getting ready for the big period (it's not just one day anymore).  We're going to help you make it through to January 1 as well.

The wife just got back from yoga class where she's building up her stamina, agility, ability to handle the crowds.

 

Overkill Maybe - Okay, maybe football and hockey gear is a little over the top when you're preparing to face the shopping horde; but remember, there are people in these crowds that take their shopping very, very seriously.

The daughter borrowed Sharks' goalie gear so she's ready for the crowds.

Son?  

He's a guy - he's ready!!!

Ourselves?   We're McArthur -- developing the plan of attack and backup plans.  We're cruising the web visiting retail/manufacturer Facebook pages, scraping all of the Black Friday sites, researching/searching groupon and all the coupon sites.

Now let's get you ready.

The Economy
If you blinked, you missed it, but the economy bottomed out in the US and around the globe last June.  We're now on the path of a slow (really slow) recovery.  

We've entered what Ken Rogoff, of Harvard U, calls the New Abnormal.  

Speaking at the CEA Industry Forum, Brian Wesbury, an economic forecaster, said we've been down so long people everywhere are suffering from economic hypochondria - the first sign of economic ills and that's what you've got!

The CEA cautiously estimates consumers will increase their holiday spending 5% this year.  We believe that's low.

We won't be throwing money to the four winds, but things have been so freakin' unsettled, the gyrations so violent, CE manufacturers/retailers are going to focus on flushing out inventories so much and things have been so gloomy, regular folks will have muted enthusiasm this holiday season.

This holiday, you're going to have a choice of putting the money in a mutual fund or in the bank and they can lose part of it for you.

Or, you can take advantage of the holiday/Black Friday deals and say, What the heck I've got something to show for the money anyway.'

That'll show em!!!!

Their Plan for You
The CEA. NPD, IDC and a ton of weird mathematicians pour over everything to figure out what, why and how you buy.   

We're going to pull back the curtain a little so you're on somewhat' equal footing.



PC/CE Shopping - Sure, there may be some people out there who think of frivolous items like clothes for holiday gift-giving.   But the PC/CE/communications industry has been introducing gotta'-have hardware, software and services this year, and they've felt the dull pains of a slow economy just as you have.  This holiday season, they'll be pulling out all the stops.  Source - CEA

You told them this year you want:
-    Peace/happiness (good luck with that one)
-    Notebook/laptop
-    iPod/iPod Touch/MP3 player
-    iPad (couldn't just say tablet could you!)
-    eReader
-    smartphone
-    video game system/accessories
-    TV

About 31 percent of your holiday budget will go for PC/CE/communications stuff.

Where are you going to buy this stuff?  

According to the CEA just about everywhere imaginable because the industry's products have become an integral part of your life:
-    Mass merchants like Target, Walmart - 66%
-    Electronic stores like Fry's, Best Buy, Apple store - 60%
-    Warehouse Clubs like Costco, Sam's - 40%
-    Online like Amazon, Tiger Direct, company sites - 46%

O.K., that's more than 100 percent, which means you're picking and choosing who gets a piece of your action.

So what are they going to do to entice you?

They're pulling out all of the stops:
-    Temporary storefronts in diverse locations
-    New educational/informational displays
-    Financing
-    Installation/set-up
-    Greater assortment of product, features, prices including house brands
-    Site -to-store offers (forget the crowd)
-    Free delivery

What are they hoping you'll buy (in the US):
-    Tablets - 5 M+ in US, 8.5 M WW
-    Flat-panel TVs - 10.5 M
-    3D TVs - fingers crossed (more shortly)
-    Blu-ray - 4.8 M
-    Video games - 18.25 M
-    Dig cameras - 14+ M
-    iPodish/MP3 - 23+ M

Get Ready, Get Set
O.K., that's them, but what about you?

You may be frustrated over the economy, but I gotta' tell you the manufacturing and retail boys/girls are hungry.   Q4 - the traditional holiday season - is where they produce most of their sales and the lion's share of their profit.

This is the 'make or break' time for them in 2010, so you rule!!!

Bundles will be huge this year.

Everyone is trying to breath serious life into 3DTV; and right now, that's not easy.  

Not that it's dead - far from it, but folks have to see it, have to have a good understanding,  see it in optimum conditions, have real assistance in the set-up.  So expect outlandish bundles - Set, BD player, couple of 3D movies, free installation/set-up/training.

Expect about 1.5M bundles to be sold this holiday season (fingers crossed), because content just isn't there (yes, ESPN is going to have some, so will Discovery but after that?   Soon).  

But if the bundle and financing is right, take the plunge because you'll also get Internet TV and search/view capabilities and that just might push you past the decision hurdle.  

Glasses?   

Get over it!  

If you want glass-free viewing (stereoscopic), wait 3-5 years.

We're more concerned about content choice.

In the meantime, we'd look for a bundle couple of good IP-enabled HD sets, Roku box, BD player, fantastic price.

Video game stuff?

Again, it's the bundle.

Value-add will drive everything this holiday!!

Start Now
What's our family preparing, getting in shape for?

Right !  The best deal anywhere/everywhere.  

And we're not alone.

 

Worldwide Sale - While folks in the US and Canada think of Black Friday as a sale phrase that is unique to the Americas, we were surprised that searches on the phrase have increased so significantly and Black Friday searching spans the globe.  Source - Google, CEA

The CEA's Shawn Dubravac blew us away at the Industry Forum when he showed the image above and noted that the search volume is worldwide.

Black Friday is becoming as universally understood as free and love.  

Black Friday means the cheapest price period!!

We're not certain how you get the product/price if you're in France, Japan, India or wherever, but the iNet is going to be really strained now that nearly two billion people are online.

Every manufacturer and retailer who has half a marketing/customer relations brain cell has beefed up their web site, refreshed their Facebook page, limbered up the twit thumbs, prepped their in-store display messages, set up their online/mobile coupons, YouTubed their sales videos, developed their print/electronic fliers and double/triple tested it all.

If you haven't started your search already, you've probably missed some great deals because some of those folks have already started their Black Friday promos to get a jump on sales.

Boy, that sucks ?cause that was just the one you wanted!!!

You have to remember--on the web, bargain hunting is a 24x7 effort.  

Scoring a few great deals does not make a successful holiday shopping campaign.

Sign up for all of the email alerts, newsletters you can locate to score the best deals.  You can always cancel later and it lets you fine-tune your shopping location list.  There are also several Black Friday smartphone apps download them and don't be afraid to use ?em!

In the weeks ahead, make up your shopping list and check it a couple of times to make certain you have the products, location and price you want.

Our attack squad - daughter, son, wife (remember, we're in the command post) - have all of their key information on their smartphones, and we can send them updates - BAM!!!

They also use the barcode apps to scan and check other locations just to ensure they're getting the best price period.  In a few instances, they've shown the store personnel that they can get the same product for less down the street, across town.   Most of the time, they'll match it!

They plan out their individual soirees with precision, using their smartphone GPS app so they don't waste time, energy, gas, money.

Remember, we've had our shopping team in training for some time now - yoga, karate, aerobics.

You can't be too prepared.

She may look like a frail little old lady or a gentle, sophisticated socialite, but remember this is Black Friday shopping.

Holiday shopping tends to make people a little uptight, a little irrational.  With the pent-up frustrations we've all had this year, they might be even a little more vicious.
 

Gentle But - Common sense tells you that you simply do not get between a wolf or other wild animal and its young.  The same happens at Black Friday sales if you get between that sweet little old lady (or anyone, for that matter) and the fantastically priced iNet-ready HDTV set or other entertainment device.  Watch their eyes and back away slowly.

If they start showing their fangs, back off.  Go for the second best price or be patient the store/manufacturer may have to flush out more inventory and you'll get a real bargain.

That will give you even more satisfaction.

Keep your purse/billfold firmly in your clutch, no matter how the crowd pushes you.

Jerry Rice held onto the ball no matter how many linemen hit him he could even dance!

Have your fully charged smartphone at the ready to double-check your list, prices, store locations.  

Sanity check with the barcode reader.  

Be ready for last-minute tactical calls if the other side (manufacturer, retailer) suddenly changes their strategy on getting you to buy.

The economy, the iNet, the tools of the trade have empowered you to control Black Friday sales this year and beyond.


 
Charge - The recession may have bottomed out and started to recover, but most people still suffer from economic hypochondria.  This is your chance to get in the car and get some real relief.   It may not be the wisest move to splurge this holiday, but you will because you can't lose any more of your money than the stock market did.  
Source - Thelma and Louise, MGM

Now do the shopping you want online.   

Then jump in the car and hit the malls/streets/stores.

This Black Friday belongs to you!!!!!


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Undercover author Miles Weston has spent more than 30 years in the storage, software and video industry, indulging in, among other things, marketing activities in promoting PC, CE, communications, content technology and their applications . Contact Miles through his editor by clicking here.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 





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