Black Friday, you may remember it as a series of televised riots over slightly cheaper dryers, but have you ever wondered exactly where it comes from? Riots, of course are as old as angry crowds, but riots over toasters with 30% off their marked price are a relatively modern invention. Of course, Black Friday wasn’t invented to incite riots, we have systemic inequality for that! Black Friday was invented to be a kind of pre-Christmas sales extravaganza that helps sellers shift stock fast, and help buyers get quality appliances at minimal cost.
Of course, in practice, it helps sellers shift stock fast, and help buyers find a quasi-sanctioned way to trample people and get into a brawl over the last microwave.
The History of Black Friday
The term ‘Black Friday’ isn’t so much an official designation as it is an informal name in the USA for the fourth Thursday of November. Its origins can be traced back to 1952, but it didn’t become the festival-like event until the early 2000s.
Since then it went from an event confined solely to the USA to a global event with companies across the world jumping on the band wagon and citizens across the world whipping themselves up into a zealous sales-frenzy.
Black Friday has long been an important part of the media cycle, nothing makes headlines faster than middle class suburbanites clawing and scrambling over each other to get their hands on a blu-ray. The rioting though may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, with the news pointing and sputtering at incidents from the previous year, inadvertently psyching their audience up for the possibility of riots.
Not content with one day of sale-pocalypses, Black Friday has migrated to the internet and incarnated as Cyber Monday. This is essentially the same model as Black Friday, but on the internet, where there are fewer riots.
Cyber Monday first appeared in 2005, and since then it has always been on the first Monday after Black Friday. It was created by marketing companies in the early days of ecommerce as a way to persuade people to shop online. It worked. Now everyone buys stuff on the internet all the time and Jeff Bezos is the richest human to ever exist.
In summation, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the rarest of marketing schemes, ones so successful they captured the hearts, minds, and blood frenzies of millions of people across the world.