How to cut through the noise for Black Friday and beyond

Posted on 05/11/2021 by Julie Reid

In the first instalment of our new blog series, we explore how your brand can stand out this Black Friday.

With UK consumers having almost £200bn to spend from Black Friday to Christmas, how can your brand stand out during retail’s busiest time of year?

So what’s changed?

Over the past 18 months, we’ve spent more time online than ever before. Digital channels are now integrated into how we work, learn, socialise and shop. Especially how we shop.

But the pandemic only accelerated the upward trend for eCommerce that’s been building for several years. And it shows no sign of slowing down, as you can see here.

But let’s not get too optimistic – for now at least. Sitecore’s 2021 Holiday Trends Report found that 92% of brands are still concerned about ongoing economic uncertainty from inflation and the continuing public health crisis.

On the bright side

There remains a real appetite to buy out there. Which is nothing but good news for the brands still recovering from the challenges of the last 18 months.

One unanticipated outcome of the pandemic is that 81% of global consumers discovered new brands online. Mainly, this is down to supply chain disruptions, people shopping more locally and the increase in word-of-mouth recommendations.

This openness to trying new products and services remains strong, particularly during the holiday season. It’s a time when people are looking for gifts they wouldn’t normally buy for themselves. And they often want something no one else has. Google’s recent report on retail trends found that global searches for ‘unique gifts for (whoever)’ have grown year-on-year by over 100%.

Is Black Friday a bandwagon worth jumping on?

Maybe not. Black Friday is an opportunity to boost sales, that’s for sure. Even if that boost is only short term. But there’s a risk you’ll undermine the integrity of your brand and alienate existing customers if discounts are used too heavily.

If you’re operating in a luxury category, discounting could actually harm your brand image which is why an increasing number of brands are sidestepping mass discounting events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday altogether.

The fact remains that Black Friday is a valuable opportunity to build awareness, clarify your brand position, acquire new customers and drive short-term sales.

It’s not all about the discounts

Customers are often searching for the holy trinity of promos, sales and discounts in Q4. And Q4 purchasers can be fickle, simply searching for the best deal and the best retailer. There needs to be an understanding of what lifetime value is and if Q4 typically sees a drop as a result of any discounting offered.

The best way to counteract the discount-hungry consumer – while also increasing the perceived value of your product – is through non-discount based promotions. These can range from membership ‘points’ based offers (think AirMiles or Nectar Points) to an annual delivery discount (this works extremely well for fashion retailers and is often a standalone product).

Try to be smart. Can you drive non-customer acquisition to people that are likely to stick around post Q4? A Spend and Save is a good way to increase profit margins, while offering more to customers who are willing to spend more. Do you have a refer-a-friend offering? It’s extremely easy to integrate added value that rewards current customers’ repeat purchases, while also driving newly acquired customers who’ve had a second-hand positive experience.

If you don’t want to rely on discounts alone, here are a few more ideas.

Limited stock deals

For various and obvious reasons, most supply chains are struggling at the moment.

If you’re having issues with low stock, and mass-discounting is not an option, how about launching exclusive offers? Or why not get potential buyers to sign up and submit their details so they can get their hands on limited stock. If managed well, you’ll also be able to capture valuable customer data for use in future campaigns.

Extras and bundles

Free delivery is an obvious bonus to throw in on Black Friday. But why not offer this all year round? Free shipping can motivate customers to increase their average order value, with 23% of online shoppers adding more items at checkout so they can qualify.

If you want to avoid hefty discounts, you could also offer bundle deals to cross-sell customers on slower moving stock, alongside your popular lines.

Customer and subscriber exclusives

Offers exclusively for subscribers, along with early access to selected discounts for existing customers, can boost brand loyalty by making the consumer feel they’re something ‘special’. Which, of course, they are.

Outside of the holiday period, selective discounting, and limiting the amount of stock available, can help recreate this ‘sample sale’ effect throughout the year.

Just as importantly, these gated offers are an opportunity to capture vital first-party customer data for use in future marketing activities.

Gift cards

Global gift card searches reach their peak during Christmas week. Strangely enough, that also includes Christmas day. So you may want to consider offering a gift card option to all those last-minute shoppers.

Next week, we look at staying true to your brand this Black Friday. Don’t fancy waiting until next week? Download the full eBook below for all the data, insights and expert commentary you need to hone your Black Friday strategy.

Download the full Black Friday eBook

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How to cut through the noise for Black Friday and beyond

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