A Third of Shoppers Still Haven't Heard of Cyber Monday

By Beth Pinsker, Editorial Director of dealnews

Cyber Monday is in need of a makeover. If you're like a third of the shoppers we polled in a new national survey, you don't even know what we're talking about right now.

Everyone seems to know that Black Friday is the shopping day after Thanksgiving. However, Cyber Monday — the online analogue of Black Friday, on the Monday following Thanksgiving —is still something of an unknown quantity. A new poll released exclusively to dealnews by Lightspeed Research shows that one third of shoppers still don't know what Cyber Monday is. That number doesn't fluctuate much among age groups, geography or household income, although those earning over $50,000 have the most awareness.

That is not to say that Cyber Monday isn't a powerful retail sales day, and that things aren't changing fast. Cyber Monday only sprang into the lexicon five years ago, promoted by the Shop.org division of the National Retail Federation as a way to spotlight Internet retail sales. The NRF declined to comment and instead pointed to its own research showed that 80% of shoppers were familiar with the term and that nearly 100 million people shopped during that day last year.

"Cyber Monday is a relatively new shopping phenomenon that's perhaps five years old," says Chris Urinyi, CEO, The Americas, of Lightspeed Research. "Even though here in the Northeast the term has become as mainstream as Black Friday, based on this nationally representative sample of respondents, we're seeing significantly lower awareness of Cyber Monday in the Western and Southern regions of the U.S. and also amongst older consumers. I don't think this is too surprising considering the relative freshness of the term Cyber Monday, and the variations in online shopping habits nationwide."

This year, the weak economy is going to be a huge factor in when, where and how much shoppers spend, which appears to benefit Black Friday more than Cyber Monday. Our research shows that 48% of Black Friday shoppers are planning on spending more than $250, but that only 36% of Cyber Monday shoppers plan to spend that much.

"The difference in spend may be related to the types of items that consumers are planning to purchase. This research shows that consumers plan to shop for many of the big ticket items such as televisions, furniture, computers, and jewelry on Black Friday," says Urinyi. "We also noticed that many of such items were selected later in the survey, as products that respondents are not comfortable buying online, and so some of this buying behavior can be attributed to people's general discomfort with buying high-end goods online."

The primary driver in this decision is that what people want to buy most this holiday season are clothes and household items — practical values for every day — and toys. And, for the most part, they want to buy those things in the store at a heavy discount (after researching prices online and in circular ads). On Cyber Monday, the focus is on electronics and multimedia, which could turn into something of an image problem for Cyber Monday beyond 2010 if the day becomes pigeonholed as a tech-only sales event. The only three categories where Cyber Monday is likely to outstrip Black Friday in spending are multimedia, mobile phones and travel, ones you'd expect to benefit in an online medium.

As for the myth that most people who shop on Cyber Monday do so from work — making it one of the most inefficient work days of the year — our survey found that 86% of those planning to shop on that day would do so from their home computers, while only 13% would do so from work. So employers should take that news with a big sigh of relief.

How do your answers stack up again our national survey?
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About the survey: The survey was run on Lightspeed Research's US online panel in early November 2010. There were 2,001 respondents in total. Part of Kantar, a division of WPP, Lightspeed Research serves clients and cultivates online panelists across the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific.

For media inquiries about this survey, please see our press room.

Beth Pinsker is dealnews' Editorial Director. She was most recently the Editor of WalletPop.com, and has been a life-long bargain hunter. Follow her on Twitter — @bethpinsker. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.

For more great Black Friday coverage:

DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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