February 13, 2009

Warning: $900 Million Will Be Lost on Friday the 13th — How Much of it Is Yours?

by Praveen Rajan

Up to $900 million in business revenue will be lost on Friday the 13th. There are three Friday the 13th’s in 2009 — is your business prepared for it?

A reported 9 percent of Americans are paraskevidekatriaphobics (fear of Friday the 13th), and studies have shown that $800 million to $900 million in business revenue is lost on this ominous date.

But It’s Just An Ordinary Day

Some may argue that it’s just an ordinary day. In fact, that’s true. However, a proportion of your customers believe that there are certain psychological benefits, such as more confidence and a sense of comfort, linked to superstitious rituals.

Jennifer Wang summarizes this point in her article:

… hundreds of millions of dollars are lost on Friday the 13th because humans are naturally risk-averse. Although it’s not always done consciously, there’s a tendency toward less decision-making, Block says. “People don’t do as much shopping and don’t leave the house — and there’s less flying.” But by simply making people aware of superstitious behavior, it can bring out their more rational side, reminding them it’s just an ordinary day.

What Can You Do About It?

Don’t wait to lose money on Friday the 13th.

Instead start thinking about the types of customers in your market.

Are a majority of your customers from Asia? Well, Asian cultures tend to be more superstitious about numbers as compared to Western cultures.

It’s also a brilliant time to play it up with some creative marketing initiatives:

  • Home store Crate & Barrel, ran a “Lucky You” campaign last year on Friday the 13th. “They played off the superstition and got people to come out anyway.” Because consumers are not always aware of the extent to which they rely on superstitions, this is perhaps one model that businesses can follow
  • And calling attention to the cursed date certainly hasn’t hurt the Friday the 13th movies. The franchise just grew to 12 films with its latest release, which came out on Feb. 13 — a Friday. The first 11 films have earned a scary $350 million, and five of them have been released on a Friday the 13th

How Would You Make the Most Out of Friday the 13th?

Perhaps your Internet business could up-sell / cross-sell a special offer that’s available only on Friday the 13th. It’s a great brand positioning method for 2009 as Friday the 13th will occur three times this year — February 13th, March 13th, and November 13th.

Or perhaps there’s a bigger opportunity for your Internet business to mix Friday the 13th and Valentine’s Day (February 14th) (read this tip)

How would you make the most out of Friday the 13th?

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