Delving Into the Mind of a Black Friday Shopper

Delving Into the Mind of a Black Friday Shopper

The Black Friday shopper thrives on maximizing this day to find the best deals on the holiday season’s best products. Seemingly lost in the process is brand loyalty, as it is all about the product on sale that year, and at any store. Thanksgiving itself is evolving, as Black Friday sales continue to eat its way deeper into the Thursday holiday. Black Friday is a tradition to many that kicks off (and in some cases ends) the holiday shopping season.

Independent research firm Ask Your Target Market recently polled 1,000 Black Friday shoppers from around the nation for the 2013 Black Friday Shopping Survey. A key objective was to understand their motivations for Black Friday shopping, and what was uncovered is a clearer view of what drives them to get up at the wee hours of the morning to go shopping, and the strategies they use for planning and executing their shopping trip.

When asked why they enjoyed Black Friday shopping, words such as deals, shopping, crowds, family and excitement bubbled to the surface. Of course saving the almighty dollar is the primary motivator to more than 80 percent of those polled, but other key factors were listed as well. Black Friday shoppers are also driven by the excitement of the competition to find a good deal and the thrill of hitting retail stores on the busiest shopping day of the year. Many were more likely to have a tradition built around Black Friday shopping.

Night Owls vs. Early Birds

As part of the survey analysis, some interesting differences between two different types of Black Friday shoppers were uncovered. The “Night Owls” — Black Friday shoppers leaving their house before 5:00 a.m. — and the “Early Birds,” Black Friday shoppers leaving their house after 5:00 a.m.

The Find&Save Black Friday Shoppers infographic highlights some of the key data points, such as Night Owl shoppers are likely to get most of their holiday shopping completed — 63 percent typically complete more than half of their shopping on Black Friday, compared to 42 percent among the Early Bird shoppers leaving after 5 a.m..

While both sets of shoppers are primarily interested in finding a great deal, 40 percent of the Night Owls said they enjoy the competition versus 24 percent of the Early Bird shoppers.

Sales research and planning

As far as where Black Friday shoppers look to for researching sales, the newspaper circular was named as the most used sourcing tool. Many of the shoppers surveyed are also open to receiving email alerts on upcoming Black Friday sales, and/or using their mobile devices while shopping to help optimize the trip, or uncover new deals while on the go.

The majority of Black Friday shoppers not only research and then map out a plan of attack, but they instill a new strategy each year based on where the deals will be found. This fresh plan of attack each year takes time to create with many spending between two to four hours creating the perfect shopping game plan. These game plans include research into multiple retailer websites, time constraints for certain sales and the location of each store.

This special shopper is also much more likely to complete the majority of their holiday shopping on Black Friday. Additionally, a large number (one third) prefer to tackle Black Friday shopping alone. More and more are taking their Thanksgiving dessert to go, beginning their shopping excursion on Thursday night.

The holidays are steeped in tradition, and Black Friday is yet another that has earned its place on the calendar. Just ask its shopping participants!

Ben T. Smith, IV is CEO of Wanderful Media, a startup focused on reinventing online discovery shopping with a social experience. He is also a Venture Partner at Accelerator Ventures and co-founder of and Ben blogs at, and you can follow him on Twitter at @bentsmithfour.