by Kenneth Rudich
We all know Black Friday can become unruly at times.
And while it may not be in the best interest of society to have such a situation afoot, retailers rather prefer it.
They want their customers agitated on Black Friday because they know it fuels the desire to buy, buy, buy.
All the pent up energy that’s been building while waiting for the sale to begin gets released through the escape valve of feeding their delirious hunger for finding good deals. This partially explains the adrenaline rush they often will feel while foraging among the aisles and shelves.
It’s no surprise, then, that the retail industry goes out of its way to cook up this particular cause-and-effect. It’s based on a formula that’s been handed down from one generation of retailers to the next, like an old family recipe for a special turkey stuffing or sweet potato side dish.
Only in this case the recipe — aka marketing ploy — is designed to test and tax the emotional intelligence of those that willingly play along (if you don’t believe it’s possible to manufacture this circumstance, then do an Internet search for a psychologist named B.F. Skinner and his experiments with Operant Conditioning).
The recipe goes something like this:
Preheat the process by fostering the perception of low, low, low prices (note to retailers: they don’t technically have to be low, just perceived as low).
Promote limited quantities for the most popular items.
Let people sit outside closed doors for hours on end. The anticipation and anxiety should be allowed to simmer until it begins to stew.
Cooking times may vary, but watch for signs of shoppers slowly losing their sense of reason. The ideal scenario is when they grow so restless as to more resemble something from “The Call of the Wild” than a harmless trip to the store.
As the final seconds wind down to the appointed hour for opening the store, stand near the doors but don’t touch them just yet. Linger about like you’ve not a care in the world. Make it seem insufferably long so as to give the tension one last chance to reach a crescendo.
Next, unclick the locks loudly and with a dash of panache. Let the sound carry throughout the crowd. This will stimulate the reflex response.
Finally, swing open the doors and run for your life (Note to employees: trampling may occur amid the ensuing stampede. If so, ignore it and report to your assigned station at once).
This, for all intents and purposes, is the retail industry’s recipe — aka marketing ploy — to foment a buying frenzy on Black Friday.
An Emotional Hijacking
Some Black Friday shoppers invariably lose control of the reins on their emotions. They get swept up in what psychologist Dr. Daniel Goleman calls an “emotional hijacking.” Others may use the term “emotional meltdown.”
Either way, these individuals tend to get overwhelmed by sudden urges that turn their behavior into a misguided response. And once they’ve started down that path, it’s nearly impossible for them to stop. Think of it as the human equivalent of a runaway train.
The last thing any rational shopper wants to encounter on Black Friday is another shopper in the midst of an emotional hijacking.
Yet it happens year after year. Watch the video for a realistic glimpse of just such an occasion.
Imagine if this had happened to you. How would you have reacted?
Where would your response have fallen on the emotional intelligence scale?
If you think you could have acquit yourself in a manner comparable to what the diplomatic woman in the video did, then you probably have what it takes to be a frenemy of the Black Friday marketing ploy…as well as any other situations in life that may require the same or similar level of emotional intelligence.
If that’s the case, then good for you!