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Perseverance has recently been crowned 2021’s Cambridge Dictionary word of the year; and it’s not tricky to see why. For our retail clients, 2021 has been a year of undulating challenges:

  • General marketplace uneasiness.
  • Lockdowns and lockdown lifting.
  • Financial uncertainty.
  • Furlough scheme ending.
  • Return of international travel and events stretching consumer pockets.
  • Shipping container crises.
  • Stock and supply chain issues.
  • Rising cost of living.

This week, as Cyber Week approaches, we tackle the next challenge and take a look at what Black Friday may have in store for us. 

Overall, in the UK, signs suggest that Black Friday could be 15% bigger than last year, yet consensus is still out on whether this will play out in stores or online. Unlike in the US, Black Friday has predominantly been an online phenomenon in the UK and has steadily seen increases in interest and search volume year-on-year; the pandemic accelerated this trend. However, “Andy Mulcahy, the strategy and insight director at the online retail trade body IMRG, thinks web sales for November, and Black Friday itself, could be down as much as 10% now shoppers have the option to go into stores” (A quote from The Guardian). This could mark a turning point for the UK’s Black Friday habits.

Black Friday continues to evolve. What was once a single day event has fast developed into a full month of discounts, and often beyond through a merging of the traditional Boxing Day and New Year’s sales. This single day event has morphed into a continuous discounted period, which provides both opportunities and challenges for retailers. For the UK and European marketplaces, evolving trends can be evidenced in the “False Black Friday” peaks we can see year-on-year, in which EU shoppers search on the wrong Friday (Thanksgiving being the traditional reference point for US shoppers). UK shoppers are anticipating deals and discounts well before and after the event, and are expecting to be impressed. 

The longer discounted period has also taken urgency out of purchasing decisions, but several marketplace challenges could negate the impact of this. We know this Black Friday that there are several pain points for UK consumers:

  • Sustainability and local products.
  • Financial uncertainty.
  • Stock shortage concerns.

In a cluttered marketplace, under these conditions, it is more important than ever for shoppers to feel a genuine sense of bargain and to buy from a retailer they trust. In order to make the most of the increasing Black Friday traffic throughout the remaining period, these are our top tips we’ve communicated to our clients throughout the month:

  • Go Early – Search queries are already up on last year’s trends. If you have an offering and can fulfil it, go early with your offers to capitalise on this.
  • Be Genuine – Shout about USPs and values that your consumers align with.
  • Give an Exciting Offering – be realistic about sales and offer deals that stand out from competition. Consumers are savvy and investing on advertising deals which are not exciting is a sunk cost.
  • Be Flexible with Budgets – This is no longer a one day event. Be guided by the traffic and be willing to adapt budgets based on live data.
  • Capitalise on Happy Customers – Encourage reviews to promote your business beyond the event.

Whilst so much focus goes into Q4 and specifically Black Friday, there are days to follow and your activity in Q4 can lead to success in Q1 and beyond. It’s vital to strategically assess the purchasing funnel and to use this knowledge to direct your marketing approach.

Customer loyalty is hard to come by in a price driven market and we expect retailers to put an even greater emphasis on fighting for this loyalty by engaging with newly acquired customers during the Black Friday period. Retailers are asking, “Why should our customers return to us in the future, and what can we do to persuade them beyond discounts?”. With the spotlight in the digital landscape on privacy, retailers are having to push boundaries to make their value proposition stand out, so that customers willingly hand over personal information and allow future interactions with their brand.

How can you maximise potential for long term engagement to capitalise on Black Friday sales?

It goes without saying that a minimum standard for ecommerce is to provide a seamless customer experience through a well optimised website. Allow potential customers to find your products with ease across all devices and to purchase with minimum fuss & meet your stated delivery terms. Good customer service is an expectation and honouring your part of the deal sets you on a good footing. Beyond the purchase: social media interactions, newsletter sign ups and targeted offers all increase the likelihood of repeat purchases and increased consumer loyalty. Understanding your customers will ultimately allow you to align with their values and gain an advantage over your competitors. 

As a multi-service agency, we’re well versed in adapting to the changing digital landscape & in no other period through the year is this more exciting than during Black Friday. It’s always a thrill for us here at Mabo to see results for our clients across the various channels. Everyone at Mabo wishes you the best of luck this Black Friday period!

Stephen Cumberworth
Post by Stephen Cumberworth
November 23, 2021