Article / 29/11/2019 / Julien C Robert

Black Friday: Overconsumption or golden opportunity?!

In the wake of the resounding success met by Alibaba Group’s Singles day and the astronomical revenues generated by these events, all eyes are set on Amazon’s Black Friday

Though this event is completely uncontroversial in the land of Uncle Sam, it experiences difficulties penetrating Belgium. The first Belgian Google search results on Black Friday are less than ten years old and one had to wait until 2016 to see the phenomenon really take off. Three years later, Black Friday is part of our habits. 

Why do we celebrate that particular Friday?

It will come as no surprise to hear that Black Friday originated in the USA and is linked to Thanksgiving. Initially, it was the Americans’ first Christmas shopping day. The name “Black Friday” allegedly comes from the Philadelphia law enforcement corps which called it that way because of the traffic jams observed.

However, Black Friday took another shape in the digital era characterised by the rise of e-commerce. Even though Black Friday still occurs in physical shops, its online predominance cannot be underestimated. Close to 90 % of the consumers make online purchases during this period, while only 50 % of consumers do so in regular stores.

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Bottom line: Black Friday trick to fool the consumer or not-to-be-missed event?

One cannot deny the appeal: Would one really say no to a 60% rebate on a given device, or to an offer such as “two for the price of one”? Nobody is going to blame you, but please bear in mind that it also has consequences. These marketing strategies lead to overconsumption. Black Friday (actually the entire week) is filled with irresistible offers. It is also a sales peak from a logistical point of view. Most warehouses of large American companies run in full swing during this event. This also leads to lost merchandise and delays for long-haul shipments. There is an alternative: one can opt for Belgian e-retailers. The distribution centres are well spread, and the market size is limited. Bad surprises are unlikely, and the environmental footprint is mitigated by such sustainable behaviour.


Some French brands feature a counterstrategy with the “Make Friday Green Again” movement. It is a joint venture gathering 200 brands that want to raise the consumers’ awareness for the drawbacks of overconsumption in the long-term. These brands boycott Black Friday altogether.

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