Black Friday: Searching for community in a consumer world
Nov 26, 2011

Black Friday: Searching for community in a consumer world

Can't Black Friday, one of the most consumer centered days on the calendar, just be about consumerism? Sure, on Boxing Day we can pretend it is really about lofty ideals of family and the great Judeo-Christian ethic opposed to a mad fury to acquire as much stuff as cheaply as possible. But can't we drop these pretenses and just call Black Friday for what it is?

Apparently not.  Several articles out on Black Friday seem to aim for a much rosier and more meaningful view of Black Friday:
 "...the family bonds together in the face of perceived adversity (i.e. survival in the competitive shopping environment) during Black Friday consumption rituals. Thus, Black Friday appears to be one means for multiple generations of females to bond together, reinforce relationships, and indoctrinate younger generations."
Who would ever consider depriving us of such a meaningful family bonding experience in the face of such meaningful adversity?

While it was published on Black Friday, this article waxes eloquently about the community minded value of Lululemon longer term:
"All of them are engrossed in avid conversation. Lululemon on Saturdays is a seriously chatty place. Women comparing notes on fabrics or special-edition collars. Staff modelling wraps and toques, detailing product features. Light shimmers of giddy laughter rippling through the lineup to the change rooms.
What’s notable here is that it’s not just shopping that you’re hearing. It’s community building. And if you have any doubt that Lululemon is deliberate in encouraging this sensibility, you need only read the slogans that adorn their shopping bags, advertisements and websites. Communitarian sentiments such as “That which matters the most should never give way to that which matters the least” and “Jealousy works the opposite way you want it to.” “Friends are more important than money” and “What we do to the earth we do to ourselves.” 

This is, of course, exactly what Lululemon and so many other brands aim for. By endorsing such "communitarian values" as part of their branding the goal is for there to be a transference so people see the product itself as valuable in these ways. Managing to get Globe and Mail writers to describe the retail store as some form of integral part of our community where we can go to laugh and exchange fabric knowledge is exactly the kind of success they would want. Needless to say, my as-brief-as-possible forays into Lululemon at the bequest of my wife don't show any radical transformation of the retail store and to my eyes it is still subject to the same social critiques one might levy against any other retailer. Catchy tag lines not withstanding.

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