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November 20, 2015

Black Friday: A Holiday of Good Deals

What is Black Friday?
In a US Culture training, during the American Holidays activity, a few participants asked me, "On what holiday do you get all the good deals and sales?" 

I was suddenly stunned into silence. I was seriously considering which holiday they were really referring to as almost all holidays, commemorative days or even weekends have sale ads in the US. As my silence communicated to the participants my momentary overwhelm, one of the participants added, "I think it happens in November." 

"Oh! Yes!" it dawned on me, "That's Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving." 

Actually, Black Friday was never a big deal for me personally. In all my years in the US growing up or buying Christmas gifts, I only went once, mostly as a tourist, and not a shopper. Then, I realized, never again! It just wasn't my cup of tea. But, I guess most Indians that come to the US love Black Friday for the deals, especially on gadgets, electronics and other similar consumer goods. After mentioning the term Black Friday, participants in the room started having conversations about how their family members or friends in the U.S. have got a lot of good deals on Black Friday. I think for most Indians who grow up in India, the crowd would not scare them away. Most Americans do not like crowded places, but in India, it's just so hard to be away from people. As Raj says in the Big Bang Theory, "People are everywhere!" And, it's true. Even on an ordinary day in Lulu Mall, Kochi's mall, and proclaimed biggest mall in India, lines of people stream in and out throughout the day. At high traffic times of day, it can be hard to find a parking spot, let alone a seat in the food court, or even a space to breathe in the hypermarket (supermarket).

So, what exactly is Black Friday and how did the term Black Friday originate? See the video below to answer that! 

And, how do shoppers actually behave on Black Friday? Well in addition to studying the ads weeks in advance of the proclaimed biggest shopping day of the year (it actually isn't!), some may camp out over night at stores on Thanksgiving night so they are the first in line when doors open at 4 or 5 am on Black Friday. While "traditionally" stores opened at 4 or 5am on Black Friday morning, in current times, some stores are starting Black Friday sales earlier in November or even on Thanksgiving Day!

The videos below give a glimpse into the behavior of consumers while participating in Black Friday activities and sales.

What kind of small talk can I talk about with my colleagues in relation to Black Friday? 
For those who have taken the Small Talk session through Authentic Journeys, one of the first small talk don'ts we discuss is "prices of things." One may wonder, well if we can't talk about "prices of things" in relation to Black Friday, what can we talk about? Well, yes, "prices of things" is exactly what this entire day is based on, so people may talk in general about prices of things they plan to buy. They may also bring sale ads into work or browse sale ads online with colleagues to compare prices at stores (during breaks, of course!). But, they may not talk about prices of things they already own. They may compare the Black Friday sale prices between stores, or between a sale price and a non-sale price, or how much particular items cost last year versus this year, etc. Also, people may also  talk about what stores they will shop at, stuff on their shopping list, what time they plan to go shopping, if they will shop in their town or go to another town or city, if they will go with their family or friends, and other related information about their shopping trips. Follow their lead and join in the conversation.

Jennifer Kumar is a corporate trainer providing cross-cultural training to virtual, global and dispersed teams. Contact us for more information today.

Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.