Is Cyber Monday for Real or Just Great Marketing?


It has been so heavily promoted since the term was created in 2005 that consumers almost feel compelled to go online at work or at home the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend to seek out holiday bargains.

If that was the intent of the National Retail Federation (NRF) six years ago, then the trade group deserves a marketing gold medal, if such an honor were to exist.

That’s because Cyber Monday wasn’t the biggest online sales day of the year until the hype swelled to such a pitch that it has become just that.

Last year, the research firm comScore reported that revenue rose 16 percent compared to the previous year to $1.03 billion on the Monday after Thanksgiving 2010, the first one-day spending total above $1 billion ever.

That’s a 69 percent surge since Cyber Monday 2006, when online sales were reported at $610 million. For the first time since comScore began tracking e-commerce activity in 2001, Cyber Monday 2010 ranked as the heaviest online spending day of the year.

And tomorrow, Cyber Monday 2011, should see another jump in sales compared to last year, according to most estimates.

Already, Thanksgiving Day 2011 recorded a 39 percent increase in online spending and Black Friday 2011 a 24 percent increase, both compared to last year, according to IBM’s Coremetrics unit. The results are based on data from the websites of more than 500 U.S. retailers, although no dollar amounts were provided.

Moreover, smart phone and computer tablet traffic increased to 14.3 percent on Black Friday this year, compared to 5.6 percent in 2010.

The NRF said that eight in 10 (78.4 percent) online retailers will have special promotions on Cyber Monday 2011. Additionally, 92.2 percent of the thousands of online merchants surveyed by the trade group have offered special promotions at some point during the Thanksgiving weekend.

It was the NRF’s division, Shop.org, that coined the term Cyber Monday in 2005, and created the site CyberMonday.com in the wake of consumer feedback that pointed to a high degree of interest in online holiday deals following the Thanksgiving Day weekend.

Six years ago, a majority of Americans still enjoyed a faster Internet connection at work and smart phones were barely in their infancy. And even further away were the introductions of the iPad and other tablet computers.  So consumers answered the call of the Shop.org’s marketing strategy back then.

Now, home Internet connections rival those of most employers, while iPhones and other smart phones provide apps to facilitate the search and purchase of the lowest-priced products.

Founded in 1996, Shop.org’s 600 members include the 10 largest retailers in the U.S. and more than 60 percent of the Internet Retailer Top 100 E-Retailers.

“Today, Cyber Monday is viewed as the online equivalent to Black Friday: the ceremonial kickoff to the online holiday shopping season when shoppers flood websites expecting robust promotions and many retailers highlight some of their most compelling online holiday offers,” a NRF press release said a few days before this year’s Thanksgiving Day weekend.


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