What Black Friday says about us

My November 25 eyewitness Black Friday post suggested that the most famous shopping day of the year is bigger than ever. The official numbers confirm my hunch. According to ShopperTrak, Black Friday 2011 set a new retail sales record. Consumers spent $11.4 billion — the largest Black Friday haul ever and a 6.6 percent increase over 2010 spending levels. So what does Black Friday 2011 say about us? We’re getting increasingly sophisticated with our shopping experience, and we’re bonding socially over Black Friday. Unfortunately, we’re acting ugly, too, with Black Friday shoppers resorting to violence to secure their discounted door buster deals. The Walmarts of the world need to shoulder part of the blame for Black Friday shopper mayhem — and can help put an end to the behavior, too.

Here are four observations about Black Friday based on my four years of reporting:

1. Shopping is part of the American DNA

Black Friday continues to confound many people who don’t understand why Americans are so eager to stand in freezing cold lines and tolerate unpleasant shopping conditions in search of a Continue reading

Will the Apple brand become more open without Steve Jobs?

Where is the Apple brand headed in the aftermath of Steve Jobs’s resignation as CEO?

It’s a significant question for one of the world’s most valuable companies (depending on the daily ups and downs of the stock market.) Steve Jobs is more than the face of the Apple brand — he is the Apple brand. The company has willingly benefitted from the strength of his own reputation, which makes it all the more difficult to build a brand without him.

Fortunately for Apple, as Steve Furman points out in his blog, the organization has an advantage obvious to millions of consumers: an unmatched reputation for creating innovative and user friendly products that have become part of our lives. But many observers associate those innovations with Steve Jobs personally. Here is what I think might happen now:

  • Apple might open up its brand with social media (a largely untapped opportunity for Apple) to show you more of its personality beyond Steve Jobs.

This is a sad time for Steve Jobs, and an interesting time for Apple.  How do you believe the Apple brand will evolve?