Well, it's two full weeks until Thanksgiving and retailers are already jockeying for postion on Black Friday. Since they are all competing on price, and prices can only be cut so far, the only tool they have left is to try to start their sales sooner than their competition.
Instead of sales starting at an ungodly early hour on Friday morning, Black Friday has crept into Thursday. Target has announced that their Black Friday will start at midnight on Thursday. http://www.target.com/c/Target-black-friday-2011/-/N-5q0f2. So...not to be outdone, Wal-Mart announced that their sales start at 10pm Thursday http://www.walmart.com/cp/black-friday-2011/1076614.I say we just take off the gloves and start Black Friday today...at lunchtime!
This is a microcosm of companies that rely on price to differentiate their brand. They put themselves at the mercy of a fickle consumer who will bolt the second they can find a lower price somewhere else. A brand, whether it is a product, a retail store, or a service, needs to stand for more than a low price.
Wal-mart and Target understand this. They can't offer much lower prices around Thanksgiving, so they offer something else, availability. But since their competition is trying to differentiate themselves the same way, this can only go so far! I mean, Black Friday can only be pulled up so far before it becomes Black Monday, or further back and becomes Black November, or Black Autumn starting September 1st, or heck, a Black Year starting at 11pm New Year's Eve!
At Atomic Ideas, one of the first questions we ask a potential client is: "If every one of your competitors had the exact same price, why would customers come to you?" If you don't have an answer to that question, you are doomed to compete on price...and your brand is simply...doomed!