Like eating turkey and weird canned cranberry sauce, waiting in line in the cold to get those sweet, sweet savings on Black Friday is a great American tradition. In the past, the reason was clear: how else would you avoid having to deal with shady people on the black market in order to buy a Furby?
Now, this is less of a problem. When the options are waiting in frigid lines with ravenous, occasionally violent hordes or staying home and just getting the same deals online, the choice seems easier. But local news reporters aren’t the only ones adjusting to this reality in which e-commerce has surpassed brick and mortar shopping.
In recent years, the idea has been that while Black Friday is for brick and mortar stores, Cyber Monday is where e-commerce does its business. But is that true? We looked at the way Americans interacted with e-commerce websites and applications over the course of the Thanksgiving weekend to find out.
RIP Cyber Monday, 2005-2017
The term “Cyber Monday” was coined in a 2005 press release that somewhat underwhelmingly declared “Online Retailers Also Going All Out for Thanksgiving.” A dozen years later, it is not surprising that online retailers are also going all out for Thanksgiving. And not just the Monday after the weekend. Cyber Monday was the idea that on Monday at work, everyone got on their computers and got to shopping, because in this long-ago land, people primarily accessed the internet through their work computers. That is… not the case anymore. As such, more and more companies are stretching their Cyber Monday deals all the way back to Black Friday and sometimes even earlier, so does Cyber Monday still matter?
As you can see from this graph showing total web events in the e-commerce vertical in the United States, Cyber Monday is in fact only barely stronger than Black Friday in terms of total impact, and considerably weaker than Small Business Saturday and that Sunday, from which Cyber Monday shows a 13.91% decline in total usage.
In short: Cyber Monday is no longer the end-all-be-all in web traffic for e-commerce retailers.
So let us be the first to coin the next made-up marketing term to replace Cyber Monday and accurately describe this whole four-day tryptophan-induced shopping bonanza: A Long Weekend In Which Consumers Respond Rationally to a Temporary Decrease in the Price of Goods and Services that Occurs Shortly before Several Large Gift-giving-based Holidays, But Online.
It might need a little work.
Web and mobile trends
For some online retailers, mobile may function as a showroom where customers browse, and web as the cash register where they actually make the purchase. As such, web traffic is important! It’s where customers are most willing to actually part with their cash. And for e-commerce web activity, the Thanksgiving weekend thumps everything in the preceding months, including a not-insignificant Halloween bump. However, one day after Cyber Monday, the sales are over, and the users are gone.
Cyber Monday has moved to phones, where activity was higher for those days than any in the previous two months—though that may have to do with the general trend seen in the 2017 Mixpanel Product Benchmarks Report that e-commerce mobile performance is strongest Monday through Thursday. Take a look at mobile events compared to web events in the United States during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
The overall conclusion, though is clear: while mobile events do perk up steadily, the trendline is clear. There is no one-day spike. It’s about the whole weekend.
Android v. iPhone
While both Android and iPhone users increase their activity during the days after Thanksgiving, Android’s steady growth is larger, percentage-wise. On Cyber Monday, Android users performed a staggering 94% more actions than on Thanksgiving Day. For iPhone users, that increase is a still large 62%.
Maybe the more interesting usage trend is that there is more activity on the day before Thanksgiving than either of the two days following it. Perhaps mobile users are scoping out the items they are hoping will go on sale after the holiday, so e-commerce product owners should think about making it easy for customers to see items that are going to be on sale.
You should give your Millennial grandchild some credit for staying off their phone
On a lighter note, a classic holiday trope is old people being annoyed at The Youngs for going on their phones too much. Is this a thing? Let’s look at a graph of mobile events, excluding the Enterprise (read: business-to-business) vertical in the United States to check.
Nope! Thanksgiving Day is not a bunch of teens sulking around on their phones; or at least, it’s less like that than all the other days. In fact Thanksgiving Day has the lowest activity of any day in all of November. Everyone is listening to your stories, grandpa!
For deeper insights into data from 1.3 billion real Mixpanel users, download the Product Benchmarks Report today.