Free Coffee Not the Only Perk Awaiting Black Friday Shoppers


Black Friday is mere days away and America’s (make that North America’s) most-devoted consumers are busy doing their stretches, dressing themselves in layers, and plotting their battle plan for early Friday morning.

Retailers, of course, would like to help them in any way possible in order to maximize the amount of money flowing into their cash registers throughout the punishing annual bricks-and-mortar portion of the shopathon. More of that activity, of course, is moving online and mobile — but for those committed to the physical act of shopping, they’ll need help — and brand marketers are anticipating their needs.

For these seeking retail rejuvenation on Friday, a host of caffeinated beverages and coffee retailers are throwing incentives their way to get them to suck down as much as possible to refuel while on the run.

For those who tweet #dunkindonuts on Friday morning between 6 a.m. and noon Eastern, they’ll get put in the running to win one of six Keurig brewers and two boxes of Dunkin’s Hot Cocoa K-Cup packs. Meanwhile, 7-Eleven is handing out a free hot beverage for folks who come in on Friday and buy a Red Bull energy drink. Sonic Drive-Thru is opening early nationwide and offering its breakfast burrito at half price all day. What else could a crazed Black Friday consumer want? [more]

“Millions of shoppers will be setting their alarm clocks early on Black Friday,” stated Sonic Chief Marketing Officer James O’Reilly. “We’re doing the same and opening up at 6 a.m. or earlier to offer shoppers the chance to power up or refuel with half-price Breakfast Burritos all day.”

Starbucks’ Seattle’s Best Coffee chain is taking a different tack and giving away free coffee to retail workers (smart) while offering discounts to consumers, according to  And don’t think Starbucks is slacking off. Walgreens has introduced a Black Friday app that will give users a mystery offer that consumers can swipe to reveal “exclusive Walgreens offers and discounts on Starbucks Doubleshot Energy Coffee products at their local Walgreens,” according to a company release. 

The Wall Street Journal notes that coffee perks aren’t the only lure percolating. Shopping malls are adding valet parking, free refreshments, and relaxation lounges to help consumers get through the day. Other amenities that malls are adding include free package-holding services, coat check areas, security guards that will carry packages to cars, and child care centers. 

“People tend to make more impulse and inspired purchases in person, especially if they’ve been made to feel like a first-class shopper,” Kit Yarrow, a professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University, told WSJ.

And where there are people, there will be, of course, brand ambassadors and samples galore. Guerilla marketing firm Lucky415 tells Marketplace that its street teams could be up at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. so they can get cracking on passing out samples. 

Jonathan Margolis of alternative marketing firm Michael Alan tells the site that he’s seen lots of companies pull such promotions as “vehicles ‘wrapped’ in ads for a brand, food trucks giving away freebies, outside projections of ads, and floor stenciling — temporary ads that look like graffiti on the ground,” the site reports.

And why not? Black Friday may be a nightmare to live through, but it is likely the best day of the year for wannabe social scientists in the marketing world to try out their craziest ideas. What’s the worst that can happen, other than consumers beating the heck out of one another for your product?