What Businesses Can Learn From This Year's Black Friday Weekend
When you boil it down, marketers have a straightforward task: simply give shoppers what they want or need. And, thanks to the wealth of readily available customer data at our disposal, we have a pretty good idea of what those needs are and when they require satisfying.
It’s incumbent on marketers to do something with this information — to find ways to deliver on consumer wants and needs and create competitive advantage for their brand. And there's no time in the year that this is more important — or more lucrative — than during the holiday season, when shopping, spending and sentiment abound.
Emerging Shopping Trends
Successful marketing has little to do with luck or premonition, and a lot to do with accurate market analysis. The most intuitive marketing minds will see the lack of growth in sales during Black Friday weekend not as a sign of spend reduction, but rather of spend extending through the wider season. There are also other moments throughout the year when shoppers expect to be able to obtain deals, with Amazon.com's Prime Day being the biggest example.
We've seen less discounting in the run-up to this holiday season, which has resulted in less frenzy building. After 18 months of COVID-induced concern, the last thing consumers want to see is “one-day-only,” anxiety-inducing sales. Stress and strain have already peaked with supply chain shortages and shipping issues. Doorbuster sales? A major no-no with the surge of COVID-19 Delta and Omicron variants. As consumer psychology evolves, marketers must adjust as well. For Black Friday and other holiday shopping events, this means changing the narrative and extending the sales runway to capture the spread in spending.
Smart, consumer-conscious businesses have avoided sticking sales to a single day, knowing that this would exacerbate an already strained system, and (worse?) exasperate shoppers. By allowing consumers the opportunity to shop sales throughout a season, brands are giving consumers the intangible gift of autonomy.
Regaining the Meaning of Thanksgiving
Another impact on sales volume has been the actions of some retailers in recent years to regain the meaning of Thanksgiving, closing their doors and allowing their staff to spend time with family and friends through the holiday weekend. REI began this change a few years ago, encouraging us all to get outside on Thanksgiving rather than going shopping, and an increasing number of retailers have followed suit. As a result, many shoppers have taken this to heart, knowing they can meet their shopping needs at other times or online.
This moment in time — when shipping woes and supply chain shortages are top of mind — is also shining a spotlight on how important transparent, empathetic and straightforward communication is. Marketers don’t need to find a way to fix the supply chain, but they do need to manage shopper expectations and engagement. They can accomplish this by avoiding advertising what they don’t have and communicating honestly, proactively and transparently.
Just because the supply chain is struggling doesn’t mean your brand has to. Use this season as an opportunity to test and perfect your messaging, and reflect on what landed with your shoppers.
In marketing, timing is everything. The right message, in the right channel, and at the right time is a silver bullet. This moment in time — when shipping woes and supply chain shortages are top of mind — is a shining spotlight on how important the slightest adjustment can be to a company's bottom line.
Craig Elston is head of strategic services at Iterable, a cross-channel marketing platform.
Related story: Black Friday Off to Slow Start In-Store, Momentum Gaining Online