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Black Friday’s Three-Pronged Offensive: Which Side Will You Join?




Shoppers rush to get in a BestBuy store at 5 a.m. on November 28, 2008 in Los Angeles, California, a day after Thanksgiving. In the last decade, shopping trends have shifted increasingly online.
Shoppers rush to get in a BestBuy store at 5 a.m. on November 28, 2008 in Los Angeles, California, a day after Thanksgiving. In the last decade, shopping trends have shifted increasingly online.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

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The American-born retail holiday known as Black Friday has been swelling amorphously, devouring everything in its path like the deformed Tetsuo in the dystopian anime classic Akira.

Once a quaint excuse to bond with loved ones in beach chairs at 5 AM outside of a Best Buy or Toys ‘R Us, the consumer biomass now seems to have overtaken every remaining retail space, and each URL on the internet, starting on Thursday night and extending past even Cyber Monday. Amid this gurgling atmosphere of targeted ads circling overhead like the Wicked Witch of the West, consumers have formed factionary allegiances: there are the old guard, the Doorbusters, arriving in layered-clothing in the dead of night. They have lost many numbers to the Online Converts, carrying out their orders from warm couches and kitchen tables.

And then there are the separatist Ecoshoppers, convinced their purchases will make the world a better place. That’s how the Wall Street Journal describes the situation, minus the pop culture gags. Which side of the struggle do you find yourself on? Are you a doorbuster? An online convert? Or do you hold back your wallet until you find a product that you feel comfortable supporting as an “ecoshopper?” We take a look at how generational divides and lifestyle choices may affect how we spend during the winter holiday sales.

Guest:

Kit Yarrow, consumer research psychologist and author of the book “Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We shop and Buy” (March 2014, Jossey-Bass)