How Did Cyber Monday Even Happen?

Okay, well if you are like me, you don’t really have any idea what Cyber Monday really is or how this day came about. All I really know is I got AMAZING online deals with fabletics ( athleisure retailer), Bobbi Brown ( make up brand), and Uber ( I think we all know what Uber is by now). Now what do all three of those purchases have in common besides being painfully basic? They were all also incredible deals honoring Cyber Monday-perhaps America’s true favorite “holiday”.

I think it is safe to say that most of us have heard about Black Friday ( I have had the misfortune of actually working two Black Fridays and it is crazy what you see go down on this day ), but I had not started really hearing about Cyber Monday until about three years ago.

Therefore, since I just hours ago picked up some of my purchases in the BC mail room that I ordered in the Pre-Cyber Monday Sale , I have decided to delve a little deeper into the day which brought these goodies into my living room.

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Okay Ummm So How did this Day Happen? 

“Cyber Monday” was coined by  Ellen Davis and made its debut on November 28, 2005 in a press release entitled “‘Cyber Monday Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year”. There are some that argue that “Cyber Monday is nothing more than a marketing ploy; just another way for corporate America to prey on people’s emotions and insecurities”. Now…I would tend to agree with that point of view ( maybe minus a little of the intense cynicism), but I would defiantly tend to agree with the fact that Cyber Monday has been perpetuated into our society largely due to a clever marketing ploy.

I personally would just count Cyber Monday in with the other “marketing schemes” that corporate America has so subtly yet effectively sewn into our culture. I often find myself asking how thing such as: how did giving out candy on Halloween become a thing, or how did Easter get correlated with a bunny which leaves chocolate eggs, or how did an elderly man who comes into peoples homes and leaves toys become a thing? – I think the answers, at least in some part, to all these cultural enigmas is marketing and corporate America, but this is a different argument for a different time. Nevertheless, the same premise works in this situation. Bluntly, Cyber Monday was in great part made up to take advantage of e-commerce and make money.

Why This Works…

Culture of Consumption 

When Cyber Monday first became a “thing” in 2006, online shopping was just starting to really gain traction. Since everyone seemed  interested in this new way of consuming and it seemed like a great opportunity to make money, why not expedite the process by blowing it up into a holiday? Since 2006, it is clear that e-commerce has increased significantly and with this increase in online shopping so have sales on Cyber Monday increased. The USA does have the reputation of being a consumption base society and this drive and necessity to “buy, buy, buy” has only been compounded and expedited by online shopping super days such as Cyber Monday.


The Timing is Impecable 

Additionally, it is important to remember that Cyber Monday is both the Monday after Thanksgiving and after Black Friday. The timing is impeccable, which creates an incredible formula for cyber success.

People are feeling generous because they just spent a whole day being grateful + they are on a roll from Black Friday shopping + on a mission for Christmas gifts + on a slight yet powerful high from the massive and rapid consumption + tired from the physical in store shopping from Black Friday + AND they are not completly broke yet! ( deep breath).

This =  the perfect formula for the ideal environment for a Cyber spending bash!  So why not take advantage of that extraneous momentum and slap a label on Monday, knighting it Cyber Monday, and reap the benefits right?


The “You Go Girl” Mentality 

Lastly, huge cyber deals give people a feeling of savvy and accomplishment from all the money they just “saved”. Do not underestimate how powerful this feeling is. It is exactly this feeling of “saving” that leads one to spend $300 in one sitting because theortically you feel like you just saved $200 off the “original price”. If you prompt people with unbelievable deals that they can not refuse, you are in turn loading them with a sense of accomplishment. Now, you are really in business!  Reactions which you may experience due to immense pride in your brilliant shopping strategy include: the…



“The Internal-Proud Of Me-Slow Clap”


“The Fist Pump”

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Well…that is what I always tell myself anyway to justify my actions. These internal reactions instigated by incredible online deals, like those on Cyber Monday, pumps people with a  deceptive sense of accomplishment. The reality may look a little more like this…



The Hard Facts and Figures:

Okay, so we have been talking a lot about motives, growth, and sales, so time to back it up with some hard numbers.

It is a fact that sales on Cyber Monday have increased significantly every year since the inception of the “holiday”.


With the exception of the year between 2008-2009 ( most likely a direct result of the recession) Cyber Monday sales have increased by double digit percentage increments every year! The results are pretty spectacular as Cyber Monday continues to grow and expand.

Now, let’s focus a little more on this past Cyber Monday 2016:

“Black Friday 2016’s reign as the biggest US online sales day ever didn’t last long. Three days to be exact. That’s because Cyber Monday hit $3.45 billion in online sales, up 12 percent from a year earlier. The day edged out Black Friday by roughly $110 million”.

Just one more excerpt that demonstrates the colossal power and impact of Cyber Monday, which I bet many of you reading this were participants in . ( you know who you are).

International Impact:

It is important to remember that Cyber Monday is by no means a U.S. only “holiday”, but it is one of those few things that brings the whole world together, shopping  and saving. Soon after Cyber Monday began in the USA it spread across the globe. Britain is second to the USA in sales on Cyber Monday, but also states that Cyber Monday “has been the busiest day for online shopping since 2009”. Cyber Monday is also “celebrated” all over Latin America, Europe, Australia, India, Japan, ect… It is a world wide day of online consumption! Another notable country picking up significant traction on Cyber Monday is China due to their ever increasing e-commerce market. (as I spoke about in my presentation a couple weeks ago). However, again, it is important to note that China runs their version of Cyber Monday on their unique Chinese e-commerce platform.

So Who Partakes in Cyber Monday?

Most big companies you can think of will have Cyber Monday specials such as:

  • Target
  • Wal-Mart
  • Amazon
  • Nordstrom
  • Sephora
  • Ebay
  • Uber/AMEX ( I got two $65 free Uber rides from the airport from this partnership)
  • ect…

“Smaller” companies also take part in Cyber Monday specials such as:

  • Bobbi Brown ( I got 20% off every item I purchased online! Winning :))
  • Fabletics ( 2 bras, 1 top, 1 pair of leggings got $40, yay!)
  • Shein
  • Lulu
  • Athleta
  • MAC
  • ect…


And hundreds more! I just thought it would be valuable to showcase a couple in order to highlight one of the main trends with Cyber Monday purchases, which is that the majority of sales comes from clothing and beauty products. On the country, Black Friday has a tendency to have a major portion of its sales come from home appliance products, furniture, and large technology items.

What to Expect Down the Line…

I fully expect Cyber Monday 2017 to out perform Cyber Monday 2016 not only here, but also globally. E-commerce is only becoming more powerful and prevalent as social media among several other outlets continues to facilitate the process and exposure.  We shall see…you never know what corporate America will come up with next. All I really know is I am SO excited about my purchases and all the money I “saved” on Cyber Monday.


Work Cited:


  1. Great read! I’m quite the addict of online shopping myself, and I am definitely guilty of some Cyber Monday “savings.” While I was knowledgable about the growth of eComm sales on this holiday over the past 10 years due to personal research, I did not know its beginnings. I loved learning about how it started and I am in no way shocked that it is simply another marketing ploy to rack in sales…. but hey if companies are gonna give me insane deals on one day of the year so that I shop there… not gonna pass that up. Therefore, I do agree its a marketing scheme, but luckily in comparison to chocolate on Halloween and Easter, consumer’s actually derive value from this scheme, which is why I think its continued success and growth as a “holiday” has been so apparent.

  2. rohansuwarna · ·

    Great post! I really like the graphic your provided about the increase in sales in each of the last 10 Cyber Mondays. As consumers’ dependence on technology grows so will the sales on Cyber Monday. People find it much easier to buy their products online and as this process because easier more and more people will buy online instead of waiting in lines at 6am on Black Friday. I believe if payment processes can get easier via apps on the iPhone or even on the Apple Watch, people will certainly not bother to stand in lines for hours.

  3. Nice post. Would be interesting to compare the increase in Cyber Monday sales with overall online commerce growth. Do you think it’s different?

    1. Thank you! I think that the overall trend would be the same. There is a pretty consistent increase in online commerce growth as the years go by. Easier access to the internet and new technology have really helped facilitate the e-commerce experience, which in turn has caused it to grow. I would have to do more research to be able to back this up with facts and figures, but this would be my initial hypothesis.

  4. Really great post! Definitely agree with you that Cyber Monday is a marketing scheme – a day dedicated to stores having such huge sales that people like me just can’t resist! The timing of Cyber Monday is interesting for consumers, as you mentioned, but I also think it works well for retailers. After Black Friday, retailers can sell off any excess inventory that wasn’t sold, marking it down even further to ensure it sells and they aren’t left with old inventory. This is especially important before the holiday season, when many retailers must gear up for a season of shoppers on the hunt for gifts.

  5. I’m an online shopper and for some reason I did not shop on Cyber Monday this year. I usually do not shop on Black Friday and this year I did. I was so exhausted and broke from that, the weekend didn’t even rejuvenate me to sit on my butt and shop online! I’d be curious to see the demographics of the majority of Cyber Monday shoppers. I’m sure it’s all over the board but there are different types of people who shop in-store versus online. I broke my typical standard this year, but I am sure people who do not want to deal with the crowds and parking fights simply shop online. Great read!

  6. Huge Cyber Monday fan here, so I loved the post. As a family we always do a Thanksgiving dinner so by the time I am leaving my cousin’s house its late at night, and no one wants to go wake up early and go shop on Black Friday. Enter the greatness of Cyber Monday, which allows me to sleep in on Friday, enjoy my entire weekend, and then finally finish all my X-mas shopping with the click of a button. Online commerce has been great for someone like me, who has no idea what to get someone. But, the ease of Cyber Monday along with the great deals that come with it, help a clueless shopper like myself, save Christmas for the rest of my family.

  7. magicjohnshin1 · ·

    This post was a wonderful read! I really resonate with your “formula for success,” because I felt all of those emotions at one point this Thanksgiving break. I agree that Cyber Monday is one of America’s greatest marketing schemes, because it combines everyone’s guilty pleasure of shopping from the convenience of your own home, with just a click of a few buttons. I think it’s so interesting how a whole nation, and world, fall into these marketing traps but I also do feel that it is alright to indulge a few times (am I too brainwashed to be saved?). I think Cyber Monday is a lot safer, physically, than Black Friday, so I’m all for it! On a parting note, it will be interesting to see how Cyber Monday will continue to surpass sales from Black Friday. This year’s gap was fairly notable, and I think it’s safe to forecast that Cyber Monday will surely dominate over Black Friday given its unprecedented growth each year. I also think other parts of the world are picking up on this fad, as my relatives in Korea were also talking to me about not just the concept of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, but Cyber Monday as well. The fact that they even mentioned Cyber Monday was a huge surprise to me, and this alone testifies that Cyber Monday has reached a global audience and will continue to shape every Monday following Thanksgiving. Cheers!

  8. Great post! (I also bought something from Fabletics for Cyber Monday lol). It wasn’t until you mentioned it that I realized that Cyber Monday still feels like a relatively new thing, especially compared to Black Friday. What I wonder about is if one day Cyber Monday will overtake Black Friday in a way, or if Black Friday will transition to being mostly online and get rid of the need to have a Cyber Monday in the first place. Most stores have deals both in stores and online on Black Friday anyways. I also wonder how companies go about doing sales on both days, as some choose to do different promotions and others extend their Black Friday promotion. How do they pick which day to have the better sale on? For example I think Old Navy have 50% of everything in store and online for Black Friday and I believe they only had 40% off everything for Cyber Monday.

    This also makes me think about other special days after Thanksgiving. You have Thanksgiving, then Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. Why is everything so clustered around the same chunk of time? I feel like that might not be a great idea since by the time the last few days come around you’re basically probably out of disposable income to spend by then!

  9. Awesome post! I am not a cyber monday shopper myself, mostly because I am not a big online shopper period, however, that doesn’t mean the topic is not interesting to me! You did a really great job of establishing the origins and also adding in your own analysis and personal experiences regarding cyber monday fanaticism and sales. Your equation for why the marketing of Cyber Monday is so effective was genius- while all of these aspects seem obvious, I never thought about all of the holiday trends that align to make cyber monday such an explosive day for online shopping. I think the international effect is also incredibly interesting- Cyber Monday started in the US but has grown abroad due to the mass amount of American sales that are made to foreign shoppers. Lady liberty is quite the trendsetter- literally! Awesome post! P.S. very jealous of your Bobbi Brown savings, that is my all time favorite makeup brand.

  10. We are all back at work. Time to shop!

    Cyber Monday is an interesting phenomenon, It seems to be getting even bigger with sales extending all week. I think that I am still getting emails.

    While many of us are probably thinking that ecommerce has hit its stride (I mean why go to a store?). An interesting fact is that of the $3.4B in retail sales that occurred on black Friday. Only 1/3 was online. Still plenty of room for growth.

  11. Tyler O'Neill · ·

    Great read and very relatable! I am one to avoid the rush of Black Friday completely. With the increased prevalence of free shipping and deals that rival Black Friday itself, why wouldn’t people take advantage of Cyber Monday. Consumers, in the US especially, have become increasingly focused on how much you save with deals, as opposed to how much you actually spend. Your duck meme does a great job highlighting exactly that. Although love taking advantage of Cyber Monday deals, it’s a bit sad to see how materialistically driven our society is.

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