Is Cyber Monday Just Marketing Hype?

While the term Cyber Monday may feel as if it’s been around forever, the popular term is still relatively new. Invented as a marketing term by in 2005, the phrase has quickly gained acceptance and use in pop culture. Originally, the term was used to describe employees who came to work to use their office computers and high speed connections to do online shopping. But with the rise of internet use at home, mobile devices and other ways to connect to the net, some feel Cyber Monday is now more hype and marketing lingo than anything else.

In the recent Small Business Owner Report published by Bank of America, the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners across the country were explored through a series of questions. The survey found the majority of small business owners saw little to no benefit from Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Ninety-one percent of owners surveyed said Black Friday had minor or no impact on their business’s bottom line, and 81 percent believe Cyber Monday was “overhyped” and had no significance to their bottom line.

This view was echoed by Mat Honan, senior writer for the tech magazine Wired. He wrote: “There are going to be lots of sales, every day, until Christmas Day. The day after Christmas will have even bigger discounts. This is an end-of-the-year thing. There are lots of things on sale today on the internet. There are also a lot of things on sale today in stores that you can walk around inside of. Cyber Monday exists not to benefit consumers, but retailers who can use it as yet another marketing channel and the press, which can get viewers out of it by pretending it’s something special. The sales are happening anyway. The term of art is just a way to get you to pay attention to it.”

Some experts disagree and have numbers to prove it.

“To say Cyber Monday is obsolete is just foolish,” says Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail analyst at Forrester, a technology research firm.

Forrester predicts that November and December will draw $68.4 billion in online revenue, a 15 percent increase over 2011. Cyber Monday is crucial to that, she says, and bigger than ever.

“It is the biggest shopping day of the year for web retailers — it is huge.”

Cyber Monday has seemingly spread from a one day event to a 3 week event, with many websites offering discounts all the way until Christmas. So while the term Cyber Monday may just be a great marketing tool, it still represents an event that many customers look forward to while shopping for the holidays. This year, we’ll have to wait until the numbers come in to see if November 26th is indeed the busiest online shopping day of the year.