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Misti Miller

Misti Miller Vice President of National Accounts

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The Thrill of the Hunt

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That time of year is rapidly approaching -- Black Friday. Black Friday is typically the beginning of the Christmas shopping season and an indicator of how well retailers will fare throughout the holidays. In fact, many retailers report that the majority of their holiday season sales happen on this single day. Consumers go wild with excitement, and some even choose to participate by camping out for up to three weeks in advance, just to secure some super deal. It is not unusual for some people to get up at 2am to get in line at their favorite retailer. Other shoppers simply plant themselves in front of their computers in order to take advantage of retailers’ online sales. The facts are that very few of the items on sale warrant standing in massive lines for hours at a time. The fantastic deals are sometimes taken by the first few people in line.  This leaves the remainder of the people to scramble for items that are priced lower but are not necessarily worth the effort they spent to buy them. Black Friday has become a quasi-holiday in our society but when you analyze this phenomenon, you must ask yourself why.
 

A parallel example involves a Kentucky bourbon named Pappy Van Winkle. It has been hailed by some as the world’s best bourbon. The Wall Street Journal even wrote an article about it titled “Pappy Van Winkle, The Bourbon So Popular Even Billionaires Can’t Find It.” It is not uncommon here in Louisville around this time of year to read about thousands of people waiting in line simply for the chance to buy a single bottle. But this phenomenon also occurs in other states. Many bars will charge in excess of $100 for a single ounce of 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle. A rare bottle could easily set you back over $2,500.
 

What do these two phenomenon have in common? Why do consumers put forth such effort to get the best deal or secure a bottle of this liquid gold?
 

The answer is simple. They are “events.”
 

Human beings intrinsically have the desire to succeed. Scoring that 50-inch high definition TV for $199 or that bottle of hard to get bourbon creates a sense of accomplishment. The thrill of the hunt releases endorphins that motivate consumers to put forth efforts that they normally would not. Being able to share that success with friends, family and even total strangers through social media brings a sense of achievement.
 

Why am I telling you these stories? Because car dealerships can create similar excitement within their community. Don’t believe me? The dealership Sterling McCall Toyota in Texas has been holding its own Black Friday event since 2008 in which they sell three used cars for $1. It’s so popular, in fact, that customers line up hours before the dealership opens for the chance to buy one of these vehicles. They don’t disclose which ones are $1. Customers must select one and claim it. Once the vehicles are claimed, the dealership discloses the lucky customers. The idea behind this is no different than any other Black Friday sale. Consumers are eager to be one of those lucky customers.
 

Events don’t have to be limited to Black Friday. Many dealers hold sales events throughout the year on most holidays. Dealerships in the country are typically participating whether they are doing so individually or if they are included in a manufacturer sale. While these events can be very fruitful and produce sales for the dealers, with the use of effective marketing and awareness, the results can even better.
 

Dealers should consider creating and holding unique events on non-holidays as well. With consistency, targeted and effective marketing and community awareness, there’s no reason why you cannot generate the same excitement at your dealership at any time of the year that you choose rather than waiting for the next holiday to come around.

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