By Shahrukh Sheikh.
Over the span of few years, globalization has really kicked into Pakistani market and people are getting highly influenced by the western norms and cultures. Be it the horror parties of scary Halloween events or love-struck red and white colored themes on Valentine’s Day. To its aid, social media has become a popular playground for marketers to promote such events and engage consumers. One of the latest foreign trends that hit the Pakistani online market last year was the “Black Friday”. With telecom giants namely Easypaisa, MobiCash and others investing heavily in online shopping websites to offer mouthwatering discounts to consumers, opened a new horizon for online shopping.
Pakistan recently witnessed the biggest online sale in history on Friday 25th of November, 2016. Daraz.pk, one of the biggest online shopping websites of Pakistan, claimed to have done Rs. 1 billion worth of sale. However, this started a new debate and the social media was divided into two. Black Friday Vs White Friday!
Many renowned brands, namely Daraz, Home shopping, Outfitters and many more, stepped into this battle and took sides. Social media was taken by storm and this new idea of having a “White Friday” instead due to the religious affiliation of Friday to the Muslim community.
Like Sunday for Christians and Saturday for Jews, Friday is a very important day for Muslims. It is more significant and more beneficial than any other day of the week. It is a time when Muslims come together to worship One God, and find strength and comfort by standing shoulder to shoulder and reaffirming their faith and devotion to Him.
“O you who believe! When the call to prayer is proclaimed on Friday hasten earnestly to the remembrance of God, and leave aside business. That is best for you if you but knew.” (Quran 62:9)
Friday is also the day on which one of the greatest verses in the Quran was revealed.
“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favor upon you, and have chosen Islam as your religion.” (Quran 5:3)
The term “Black Friday” was coined in the 1960s to mark the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. “Black” refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black,” back when accounting records were kept by hand and red ink indicated a loss, and black a profit. However in this part of the world “Black” is perceived to be something with negative intent and it is associated with things which send negative vibes. So the concept of having “Black” associated with “Friday” raised some eyebrows.
People can have different opinions and they hold the right to stand by those opinions but being a student of marketing, I look at it a bit differently. I look at it as an opportunity to start a new wave of enlightenment, unification and consumer attraction. The concept of “White Friday” is not new however, if all the brands start to support this cause, not only will it bring more customers on board, it will unify the nation. The question that remains is if western influence has taken over the Pakistani market or have we been unable to produce proper branding of our own events. Every year we have many religious and cultural events which can be branded and utilized to promote sales which will not only help the economy but minimize the divide in nation. So we have to ask ourselves, are we ready to brand ourselves? Are we ready to deliver alternatives to such events? Most importantly, are we ready to accept that change? Think!
Shahrukh is a Telecom Engineer and an MBA by profession and a blogger by choice. He likes to address the ongoing issues by exploring new opportunities in crisis situations. He can be reached at twitter @shahrukh7390 and facebook at @ShahRukh7390