There is much debate about the origin of the term ‘Black Friday’, but you don’t care about those I’m assuming. Traditionally, Black Friday is an American event, however due to the internet, e-commerce sites like Amazon and globalisation in general, the event has made its way to our side of the Atlantic in recent years. Black Friday signifies the beginning of the Christmas Shopping period, however some retailers fall into the trap of offering huge discounts around Black Friday, and in turn, losing customers for the run-up to Christmas.
While it might seem like the logical thing to do, simply because your competitors are doing it and you want to ensure that you get the customers in, we can assure you that there are better ways of handling the event, and in fact using it to encourage loyalty and repeat shopping. With almost 10 years of experience, it is fair to say we know the promotional game pretty well, here are our tips to come out on top this Black Friday.
1) Understand your Customer
Not every shopper who ventures out into the Black Friday mayhem is going to simply be on the lookout for cheaper products. For most, when looking at sales, offers or promotions, yes price is considered, but VALUE is the real determining factor. Take for example consumer electronics, where customers care about quality over price. Yes a bog-standard discounted price might entice them, but it only encourages single purchase with no actual connection to the brand. Why not offer a trade-in/trade-up promotion, extended warranty or even branded cashback offer. Offer the customer ‘cashback’ in the form of credit for your store/brand or give them a free branded gift with purchase. There is so much more value to come from a Black Friday Promotion than just sales. Think of brand perception, customer loyalty and customer lifetime value.
2) Be Different
Echoing back to the previous point, don’t simply mimic the competition and do the norm. When developing your Black Friday campaign or strategy, don’t be afraid to break out of the box! Looking back to 2015, we find one of the most unconventional Black Friday campaigns we’ve ever come across.
American retailer REI created their #OptOutside campaign, announcing that they would be closing their stores on Black Friday and encouraging their staff and customers alike to spend the day in the great outdoors. This is the ultimate ‘Anti-Black Friday’ campaign, going against everything that the holiday usually stands for. While REI might have missed out on a day of sales while their, they definitely gained a strengthened bond with their community, while providing them with informative and authentic content, placing them as the thought-leaders in the field. Sometimes things like that can be much more valuable than sales themselves.
3) Give Back on Black Friday
‘Americans prioritise companies that are responsible (86%), caring (85%), advocate for issues (81%), protect the environment (79%) and give back to important causes (73%)’
Porter Novelli/Cone Purpose Premium Index.
While this point is somewhat connected to the previous one, it definitely is worth mentioning as a standalone note. In recent years, consumers have become much more conscious when it comes to parting with their money; the make-up industry has had to appeal to the vegan, cruelty-free market, the fashion industry has had to bow down to sustainability and waste management and every single industry out there has seen the value in engaging in CSR activities. Black Friday is the perfect promotional period to take advantage of new or existing CSR activities that you are engaging in. Link up with a charity for your Black Friday event; offer further discounts or gift with purchase to those willing to donate a chosen charity or simply donate a percentage of each sale to the charity yourself, or even run a charity collection event alongside your Black Friday event such as a food drive or clothing donation centre.
4) Encourage LOYALTY
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, loyalty is much more valuable than one off sales. Think of your business looking to increase ‘relationships’ rather than revenue. The opportunities here are truly endless; rather than offering simple discounts, offer different levels of discounts to different customers depending on their commitment to the brand. If you operate an e-commerce website for example, offer 20% off to a customer willing to subscribe to your e-marketing, give customers a gift card for your store once they spend a certain amount on the day or even give them a discount code that expires before Christmas once they purchase from you on Black Friday. Alternatively, offer early access to those who subscribe to your email-list in the run up to Black-Friday, or even exclusive subscription only discounts. Sephora are renowned for rewarding their most loyal customers with exclusive discounts through mail marketing campaigns, definitely something to consider! All of these things incentivise customers into becoming loyal shoppers. Yes Black Friday is a great opportunity as a stand-alone day, but it would be an opportunity lost if you didn’t take the time to develop your promotional offers in a way that encourages loyalty.
Yes, you might think it would be crazy to come away from the ‘done thing’ for Black Friday, for fear of losing market share. However in the crowded landscape and the ever changing needs of the modern consumer, crazy works. Black Friday is a noisy, cramped and repetitive arena; stand out, be heard and breakthrough this coming Black Friday.