Are you saving up to buy presents for the family this Black Friday? Perhaps there’s a big-ticket item you’ve got your eyes on for Cyber Monday?
Whatever your plan, the biggest shopping holiday of the year is back, and this year, it’s serious business. The National Retail Federation estimated that 186.4 million unique customers shopped in-store and online during the 2020 Thanksgiving weekend, and on average, they spent $312 each. While the figures indicate a drop when compared to 2019, they are still higher than in 2018.
So what trends are we seeing this year, and what are the big brands up to?
Here are the key trends we are seeing this Black Friday:
Trend 1: Shrinking the digital shopping aisle
Ah yes, one of our favorite catchphrases. Brands are genuinely doing more to shrink the digital shopping aisle and make it easier to find what you are looking for based on intent. As a result, we see an increase in Black Friday / Cyber Monday (BFCM) dedicated landing pages, guides, and bundle deals. These make the consumer shopping experience easier by curating gift guides to inspire them with gift ideas.
Trend 2: Sustainability.
Sustainability isn’t a trend per se; it’s here to stay. But with the issues with shipping materials and costs, shopping local has become more appealing for reasons beyond ethics. Homegrown brands are predicted to see more sales in 2021. As are brands using recycled materials or selling sustainable and environmentally friendly products. Consumers want to feel good about purchases they are making and are willing to spend a little more.
Trend 3: Discounts are no longer the only incentive
Traditionally, Black Friday has been about the best price; but now it’s about so much more. The consumer is also looking for the best shipping option, hassle-free returns, and added value.
We have noticed that these four examples are widespread among retailers:
>Flexible returns. The flexibility to buy online and return in-store or an extended holiday return policy are enticing to indecisive customers.
>Free shipping. Thanks to Amazon Prime and Walmart+, consumers expect next-day, free shipping. So, smaller brands are offering free or reduced shipping costs or alternate pick-up methods to convince shoppers.
>Increased charitable donation. Brands increase the contributions or portions of profits that go to philanthropic causes instead of offering a purely price-based discount. This approach appeals to consumers who feel guilty about their purchases (all of us!). We predict to see a lot more of this in the future.
>Buy now, pay later. Layaway is becoming a thing of the past, as customers want to access their new purchases immediately. The ‘culture of convenience’ has spawned the likes of ClearPay, Klarna, and other buy-now-pay-later banking services.Brands are using this as an incentive to secure consumer dollars across the BFCM period.
Trend 4: Experiences are [almost] cohesive across platforms
Savvy consumers know that deals are exclusive to a specific platform, so they research products across apps, online, in-store, and voice. As a result, a consistent omnichannel experience has never been more critical for brands to shrink the digital shopping aisle and make the path to purchase seamless.
Trend 5: Long-term holiday strategies
This gets us particularly excited. What used to be a flash in the pan of price drops and deep discounts is now becoming a longer-term strategy in the lead-up to Christmas. These strategies are motivated by an urge to learn more about consumers before the most significant shopping period of the calendar. As a result, BFCM is becoming a month-long event, with an ongoing engagement strategy with many big stores launching deals weeks before actual Black Friday.
“Although 2021 is expected to shatter sales records, retailers are no longer as reliant on Black Friday and instead focus on the holiday shopping season as a whole. But a longer shopping period could lead to shopper burnout.” – Forbes.
How have you seen Black Friday change over the past two years? We’d love to hear how you are experiencing the changes, particularly what frustrates you most as brands try to increase sales while retaining a personalized and relevant shopping experience. Whether you’re a marketer, consumer, or brand – one thing is for sure – we need to start early!