Forget “Black Friday” the real deals are online on “Cyber Monday.”

Thousands of consumers went to Best Buy at 4 a.m. on Black Friday last year searching for discounts on a Blu-ray players, netbooks and dozens of other items. Supplies of those hot items ran out before they reached the front of the line.
This year many consumers will be giving up real-world shopping and plan to do all their gadget buying online.

While Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving in the United States — is one of the biggest retail shopping days of the year, tech-smart consumers are increasingly turning to the internet for the best gadget deals. Last year, 84 million people in the United States went online from mid-November to mid-December to shop for gift items, which was up 12 percent over the year before, according to comScore, a company that tracks online traffic. Furthermore, the growth in online purchases is expected to outpace that in brick-and-mortar stores this holiday season.

The National Retail Association is predicting a 16% increase in online sales, compared to a 2.3% increase in “real world” spending.

But penny-pinchers may also be driving the phenomenon. Many of the best discounts on electronics — especially big-ticket items like TVs, laptops and gaming systems — are found on the internet, not at retail stores.

Online discounts “are as juicy or even more appealing than what some of the retailers are promising on Black Friday,” said Mike Gikas of Consumer Reports. Gikas advised people to stay away from the Black Friday mania “unless you like rubbing against people you don’t know — or getting trampled.”
On the internet, particular days seem to have less importance than at retail stores. Wal-Mart, Amazon, Target and Best Buy are already offering online discounts on electronics that may match or beat Black Friday prices.

Some discounts may pop up online on Friday, in tandem with in-store deals. Apple, which isn’t known for discounting its high-end products, says it will have a one day online sale at Friday.

In recent years, a phenomenon marketers call “Cyber Monday” has emerged as a sort of online holiday shopping event. On the Monday after Thanksgiving, legend has it, consumers rush to the internet — presumably from their workplace computers — to shop for the rest of their lists.

The internet tracker comScore said Cyber Monday never has been the biggest online shopping day of the year. That day typically comes on a Monday in December, said comScore’s senior director of industry analysis, Andrew Lipsman.

Still, the Monday after Thanksgiving is a bigger day for online shopping than either Thanksgiving day — which has been talked about as the hot new day to shop online — and Black Friday. Last year, Americans spent almost $900 million at online retail stores on the Monday after Thanksgiving — compared with $595 million on Black Friday and $300 million on Thanksgiving Day.

AMC’s ‘Men’ Click With “Cross” Pens

AMC is teaming with the A.T. Cross Co. for an integrated marketing partnership involving its drama series “Mad Men.”
madmen cross
“Mad Men,” is AMC’s first original drama series and was created by Matthew Weiner, an Emmy winner for executive producing and writing “The Sopranos.” “Men” is set in New York in 1960 and revolves around the ruthlessly competitive men and women working on Madison Avenue.

The AMC partnership with A.T. Cross includes product integration and co-branded campaigns on-air, online and in more than 200 stores where Cross pens are sold. “This series offers a unique opportunity to showcase iconic brands like Cross in a compelling, entertainment environment,” AMC senior vp marketing Linda Schupack said. “The partnership with Cross provides AMC with the opportunity to build awareness for ‘Mad Men’ throughout their extensive network of stores.”

AMC said that as part of its marketing deal with A.T. Cross, the company’s pens were used on-set and will be placed in episodes throughout the series. AMC also will feature the Cross pen in a customized “Mad Men” vignette and online at in a photo gallery section that features art from the show. A poster featuring a character from the series using a Cross pen with the tagline, “Our classic signature pen … A new signature series” will be displayed in more than 200 retail outlets nationwide where Cross pens are sold, AMC said.

Wal-mart in Japan

I retrieved most of this information from the web…the citation is below. Wal-Mart became my client in 2001 because I was working with Saison the parent company of Seiyu Wal-Mart’s partner in Japan.

Wal-Mart is trying very hard to become successful in Japan but I believe when they entered the market they were a bit naïve about the obstacles that they would eventually face. Real estate prices and cramped space make it tough to build the giant super stores we are all used to in the USA.

The “everyday low price” strategy is not catching on with shoppers accustomed to equating discounts and low prices with poor quality and old produce.

Retailers go through layers upon layers of middlemen instead of buying directly from suppliers. Japan has a complex and expensive distribution system; retailers have equally complex and long-term relationships with wholesalers and transport companies. Under these ties, suppliers will sell only to certain wholesalers, who sell to other wholesalers and so on. A product might go through three or more hands before reaching a retailer.

The traditional suppliers that Wal-Mart has pressured to give them rock bottom prices based on the quantity of their orders are often not a factor in Japan.

And last but not least Japanese will shop with brands that they feel comfortable with and those Japanese retailers are quick to adopt some of Wal-Mart’s strategies including cutting prices and building giant super stores.

The biggest move to copy Wal-Mart been the move by Japanese retailers to coax manufacturers to sell directly.

Getting a step ahead of Wal-Mart, Aeon has already moved aggressively to squeeze out middlemen. It spent six months in 2001 persuading snack-food maker Calbee Co. to sell products to it directly, rather than going through wholesalers. Since then, 21 more domestic companies have agreed, and Aeon plans to add another 20 by year’s end.

The result of the Wal-Mart invasion has been a retail upheaval in Japan, where discount stores are still fairly new and long-protected mom-and-pop stores make up 58% of all retailers.

The lower prices and broader selection are good news for Japanese consumers, who have suffered through a decade-long downturn while still paying some of the highest prices in the world. But the competition could also end up making it tougher for Wal-Mart to be successful in Japan, as Wal-Mart’s advantages evaporate. Carrefour is closing shop already.

Wal-Mart used the same strategy here that they used in Germany. They bought a 37% share in an aging Japanese retailer named Seiyu whose parent company had fallen on tough financial times. The plan is to upgrade and remodel the aging premises and gradually re-brand some of Seibu’s products as Wal-Mart. This strategy may work, as they have not come in and forced their brand on the consumer like Carrefour had done.

In Germany, Wal-Mart rushed to overhaul the two chains it bought, lowering prices before its computerized inventory-monitoring systems were in place. Operations there are still posting losses six years later.

The results in Japan have been disappointing. From March 2003 to December 2003 Seiyu projected an $83 million loss. 2004 and 2005 results were not much better.

Zimmerman, Ann, Fackler, Martin.