Retail in Any Language: Global Shoppers Hunger for Thanksgiving Deals

Category: International Business, Language

Shortly after Thursday’s belt-buster Thanksgiving feasts, door-buster deals are the norm all across major retailers in the U.S. Each year, companies announce their shopping schedule for the holiday, and the uproar centers on who will kickoff the shopping spree the earliest. After all, what could be more American than downing a huge meal and then kickboxing your way to a sweet deal on a flatscreen TV?

Well, it turns out that Black Friday and it’s online sibling Cyber Monday are increasingly global phenomenon. The fever that kicks off the holiday shopping season in the U.S. is highly contagious, and both retailers and consumers in countries on nearly every continent play a part in scoping once-a-year bargains on electronics, apparel, and luxury goods.

In 2012, FiftyOne, the group behind Borderfree, an e-commerce platform actively engaged in connecting U.S. brands to international consumers, reported that the Black Friday weekend pushed international shoppers to spend many multiples of their average daily purchases. Colombians spent 11 times their average, followed by Israel and Ireland (7x), Mexico (6x), South Korea (5x), and Russia and China (4x).  

Just as shopping borders are blurring, so is the distinction between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Online retailers like Amazon began pushing their Black Friday deals on Sunday, November 24. Walmart’s pre-Black Friday savings events launched in stores and online on Friday, November 22.

To really appreciate the blur between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, one only needs to look at how major online retailers have localized their websites. While Amazon retains the term “Black Friday Deals” on their U.S. and U.K. sites, the French version becomes “Cyber Week,” while the German version bundles the extravaganza into “Cyber Monday Woche.”     

It would seem that shopping frenzies may be one of America’s most successful cultural exports, but to put this in perspective, consider China’s “Single’s Day” or “Bachelor’s Day.” Taking place on November 11 (the date of “four 1s”), the day is especially popular with young shoppers. Alibaba Holding Ltd., along with several other e-commerce competitors in China released staggering figures for the holiday: Shoppers spent more than $5.8 billion, more than double last year’s record-setting Cyber Monday estimates of $2 billion.

Regardless of the date of the retail celebration, one thing is clear: U.S. brands will rise and fall based on their ability to bring deals to buyers overseas. Everyone wants a slice of that pumpkin pie, and only the turkeys will be left behind.