Caveat Emptor

Posted by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon

This past week the Wall Street Journal had an article entitled, “The Myth of the Black Friday Deal.” The basic point was that you are wasting your time joining the mad dash for great deals the day after Thanksgiving. There are good times for deals, but not generally Black Friday. They point out if you want jewelry, you should probably be buying now. People get more interested in buying these gifts as the holidays get close, and prices rise. They say the same is true of most winter items and “hot” items (like new kids’ toys). On the other hand, they say, standard appliance inventories frequently run high as the holidays approach and prices get better the closer you get to the holidays.

That started me thinking about pricing opportunities in general. What if the Baldrige Program offered a discount on pre-paid collaborative assessments at the holiday season, since most organizations are focused on holiday parties and other end-of-year activities. What if the IRS offered a tax incentive for paying projected taxes owed, since they probably have little work at that season? Or how about discounted tooth extractions the week before the holidays? That one sends shivers down my spine!

The logical (at least for me) next step is to think about how this all impacts customer engagement. What will the Black Friday merchant offer in terms of a price guarantee or exchange policy? Will they stand behind the merchandise? Will there be a knowledgeable salesperson anywhere in sight? Is the price worth the risk? Is the merchant building loyalty or antagonism for all but a few lucky customers?

And, most importantly, wouldn’t I rather avoid the crush and spend the time with my visiting grandchildren? Especially knowing the prices are not necessarily that good!

Where will you be the day after Thanksgiving?

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