Luke Michael Ironside, online ESL teacher at Acadsoc
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The retail market is one of the main drivers of the economy in any and almost every country. Retailers place heavily contested prices on almost every single item, promising huge savings with each purchase. Customers are treated like royalty in advertisements, and retailers create a win-win situation for every single customer that walks through their doors. Throughout the year, there are certain periods where consumers are virtually spoilt for choice, meaning that the retailers are at their mercy. These periods are highlighted by the movement of the majority of consumers and can sometimes be shared on an international or domestic scale. The start of the school year – specific to each country, can be one of the busiest times in any economy, with many specials and savings focused on office supplies such as stationery, uniforms and even lunch foods. During the celebration of Valentine’s Day, there is a shift between domestic scalability, to international scalability through the import of roses, of different colours apart from the most famous one being red roses. In addition to that, the tourism sector enjoys considerable attention where the hotels receive special reservations set out. Who can forget the rise in chocolate sales during the 14th of February? This day sees one of the world’s premier chocolate producers, Switzerland, exporting more chocolate than usual throughout February. During Easter, another dominant holiday period, there are “Easter Sales” all over the internet and television. Perhaps the periods just mentioned have a direct influence on the increased sales for the retailers, but no period is as heavily anticipated as the period of the international shopping days of Black Friday and Eleven-Eleven (popularly referred to as 11-11). The world virtually comes to a standstill when these two days make their way onto the shopping calendar.
What is Black Friday and Eleven-Eleven?
Black Friday is an internationally recognized ‘shopping holiday’ that occurs on the last Friday of November, that being the 24th of November in the year 2017. This day sees retailers marking down the prices of their products by up to 80% – and in other countries such as the United States, Black Friday are so heavily followed that some retailers can even mark down their products by up to 95%. Surely these savings are reserved for specific items only, that would make sense right? But no, products across the board enjoy the liberty of being marked down.[i]
On the other hand, certain countries, that do not follow the same calendar as the rest of the world, such as China, adopt a different kind of “Black Friday” that is specific to the country. This day is referred to as Single’s day of Eleven-Eleven (11 November). This day gives rise to China’s most famous online shopping event and has proven to be a success since its conception in 2009 by the e-commerce pioneer, Jack Ma and his company called Alibaba – one of the world leaders in e-commerce. This day was initially dedicated to the single people in China who were ‘anti-Valentine’s Day’, and its success saw the company raking in billions of dollars. Surprisingly so, the date does not fall on February, but falls on the 11th of the 11th month, to represent the ‘solitary sticks’ that are singletons.[ii] These two days have made their mark in consumers’ hearts and continue to extend beyond the retail space. The last five years have given rise to many services purchased. These include holidays and repairs, software upgrades, internet connectivity upgrades, and most recently, online learning in companies such as Acadsoc. It is important to explore what these two days mean for the online education sector and how these days can create a win-win situation for both the learning companies and the students who have all the purchasing power and are spoilt for choice in this heavily contested market.
The Original Strategy Employed by Online Learning Companies
Online education companies employ different strategies to attract customers, and with the employment of demo classes, this has proven to be their saving grace. Students can participate in some classes without the commitment of enrolling and this can yield wonderful results for all parties involved. The teachers can enjoy fruits such as bonuses once the student chooses to enrol with the company and even if the student does not enrol with the company, the teacher still gets his or her lesson fee, so no-one loses in this instance. Class bonuses are the norm and a higher frequency of bonuses exists when teachers perform well in the classroom. This is evidenced by the students rating their teacher after each lesson, rewarding teachers who excel in making sure that the student not only achieves what they came for, which is importantly to learn but felt a deeper connection that goes beyond the learning material. Beyond all of this however, we need to take a look at how companies such as Acadsoc can incorporate Black Friday and Single’s Day to their enrolment strategy in order to increase visibility and participation in the leading up to Christmas, where many Western teachers are motivated to take time off and focus on spending time with their families. We need to look at the perks, both for the students and the teachers, during a time where the services purchased are heavily reliant on the price.
How Teachers and Students Can be All Win
One of Acadsoc’s calling cards is for prospective students to participate in the demo classes to test the quality of the service. For teachers, on the other hand, the demo classes are like any different class, just with the added perk of an enrolment bonus should a student choose to enrol with the company after their lesson with the teacher. During the period of November, where many teachers participate in the Black Friday craze in the lead up to Christmas, and where the majority of the students who are of Chinese descent, join in the Eleven-Eleven craze, there exists a need to capitalize on these waves to yield benefits for all. Acadsoc can employ one of two strategies that can ensure participation from both teachers and prospective students in November:
- Acadsoc can opt to create a lower fee for students and higher pay for teachers. Any packages bought in the promotion period by students will be discounted for their duration and teachers will be paid at a higher rate in the teaching period of November, leading up to Christmas. As evidenced by the graphs below, the lower the class fee, the higher the participation from students, and the higher the pay, the increased participation by teachers.
- The second strategy would be to have a higher bonus rate for the teachers or introduce promotional bonuses for them. However, this strategy needs to be carefully introduced as there are so many bonuses that the teachers enjoy, apart from the enrolment ones. These bonuses include class completion, perfect attendance, and teacher referral just to name a few. A slight increase in these bonuses may yield an increased participation from Christmas during the high level of online activity throughout November and the lead up to Christmas.
Black Friday and Singles Day is quickly becoming the peak of the consumers’ season whereby the retailers, both physical and online, get to give back to them through savings unknown to man. That being said, the adoption of these discounts for consumers may not see online teaching companies making billions in just one month of participation, but may increase their revenue through employee retention and consumer retention in the long-run. Businesses like Acadsoc can use these dates as a means of testing the waters for many other promotions that they may want to keep for the coming year.