However you feel about Black Friday, let’s start with one fact: it won’t be going away anytime soon.
It’s been a big deal in the US since 2005, and arrived on our shores in 2013. Despite initial scepticism (Retail Week denoted it to be “simply an Americanism, which doesn’t translate very well”), it’s been adopted by more retailers each year and is now our biggest online shopping day annually.
The reasons why are clear.
Retailers are taking advantage of the chance to boost sales pre-Christmas and/or shift stock that isn’t moving to consumers who will be almost blinded by a deal.
And consumers just bloody love getting a good deal. Seeing a cut-price literally alters the way you assess a potential purchase from “Do I like this?” to “Is it worth it?” (Karmarkar). Ever bought something on a deal and never used it? That’s why.
Are we sure it’s sticking around?!
While consumers are becoming savvier to artificial price fixing and some brands are jumping on an Anti-Black Friday bandwagon (REI, an outdoor gear retailer in the US, actually closes all its stores on Black Friday encouraging customers to get out and enjoy the outdoors), we think its growth to date suggests it’s here to stay.
Google Trends shows us that despite its detractors searches for Black Friday in the UK have grown every single year since 2015:
The thing is, now Black Friday is in people’s minds, they happily wait for it, holding out on big-ticket purchases in the weeks and months leading up to the day. And, retailers with shareholders to answer to aren’t going to take a risk on losing sales by being the ones not to discount when others are.
So, what should you do as a brand? Here are five simple rules.
1. Don’t spend EVERYTHING on Black Friday
Spending on Black Friday will put you in front of customers when they’re in buy mode, which is great news for brands.
But, if you’re a challenger brand putting all your eggs in the Black Friday basket you’re risking consumers overlooking your offers in favour of promotions from brands they already recognise. Because as consumers, we typically opt for brands we already recognise – after all, it’s easier to trust what we know.
This brand recognition (salience) is almost without exception built gradually, not through a promotional spike like Black Friday. And the more salient your brand is, the more consumers will notice and consider you on the day itself.
So, be sure to build salience ahead of Black Friday, to make for a more effective sale day – as an added bonus this approach will be good for your brand in the long term too.
2. Make sure your offers are real
As mentioned earlier, consumers might lose sight of rational purchase decision-making and behaviour when faced with amazing headline deals, but they aren’t stupid. One of the biggest factors fuelling the fire of Black Friday scepticism is a doubt that prices are actually better than at any other time of year (65% of Black Friday rejecters – Trinity McQueen).
If you do want to get rid of certain stock, strong discounts can help you do that. But don’t artificially benchmark your prices just before Black Friday as price-tracking tools like CamelCamelCamel will out you – and put you at risk of consumers swerving your deal and opting for a real offer.
3. Give a reason other than price
Low prices might be seductive to consumers, but there are a couple of additional factors to consider. Firstly, there are lots of low prices around on Black Friday – so is it enough? And secondly, if you go too cheap, too often, or make it just about price, you seriously risk devaluing your brand.
Our advice would be to engage people with a wider brand-led message at all times. Like, more features for less money. Or, do something tactical like adding a layer of scarcity to your offers, which taps into that very real consumer fear of missing out.
4. Re-engage long term
If you’re a challenger brand, Black Friday is a great time to get people to take a punt on you. But a Black Friday customer isn’t just for pre-Christmas.
So, have a marketing plan ready to keep them engaged with your brand for the long haul.
5. Stand out
The digital noise is especially loud at this time of year with emails, social posts and banners all packed with offers competing for attention. And, as everyone who has ever bought digital media will know it’s an especially competitive time to bid.
Make sure your creative stands out and truly resonates with your consumer to cut-through, especially on social media, where engagement with ads ultimately means more eyeballs on your offers.