Britain is now in the middle of “lockdown 2” which ends, according to the powers that be, on December 2. This means that this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) sales rush will take place when all non-essential retailers are in lockdown.
So what does this mean for retail spend?
In my mind, it is going to be intensified and businesses therefore need to be prepared.
Spending behaviour has inevitably changed over the last few months as retail outlets have been forced to close and customers have had to shop online. Businesses have therefore had to pivot their strategy to adapt to a focus of online selling.
‘Online retail has expanded by 35% so far this year’
Whether you take Shopify numbers or Amazon statistics, BFCM numbers show a year-on-year growth of around 50 per cent and I think we will see that again this year. Predictions are that online retailers expect 45 per cent Black Friday boost and that’s backed up by figures from online retail association IMRG indicating e-commerce has already expanded by 34.9 per cent year on year to October.
If we compare trends in the US, there were huge spikes in revenue following the US stimulus cheques getting deposited and, if anything, Covid-19 has just sped up UK consumer habits, which are following in the footsteps of US e-commerce trends (the US spend a lot more money on e-commerce products than the UK)
There is a caveat that potentially customers will reduce spend due to the impact coronavirus has had on their circumstances e.g. redundancy, job uncertainty, furlough etc, which all lead to degrees of financial hardship due to reduced income.
However, a huge proportion of customers costs have reduced with the lack of travel, commuting, eating out and, in many cases, moving back in with family to save on rent. Arguably, there might be more disposable income ahead of BFCM 2020.
#1 – Generate traction before Black Friday
A common mistake is to leave it too late to market your business ahead of BFCM.
What is apparent when you look at online habits is that more brands, products, and services are vying for customer attention and spend. From a media perspective it’s also worth noting that all of the paid/biddable platforms have limited space, and therefore the cost of advertising significantly rises throughout these periods, so it is critical that you remarket rather than prospect during this period when advertising costs are high.
(Remarketing means following customers who have visited your website but not bought around the internet, serving them ads, reminding them of what they were interested in and nudging them into a purchase.)
Act now and frontload spend on your general ads across your social media platforms rather than focussing on a two-week sales period. If you prospect now, you’ll have a better chance of getting people’s attention and then you can re-market to those people across social media and then re-target them. In doing this, you are focussing on a core group of people who are categorically interested in your product – you have their attention so maximise this opportunity to keep them keen.
#2 – Don’t rely on just one channel
Leverage SMS text messages, influencers, paid media, Tik Tok, Snapchat, Google and Facebook ads.
The key message here is, don’t be reliant on one channel – put as much spend across all of them as you can. There has been a huge shift to digital during the pandemic and with that, a whole new audience across the channels who you need to target.
This is not only a key strategy for the BFCM event but also for moving forward. Although the lockdown period, in the grand scheme of things, will be a short blip in our history, it has caused consumers to adapt and change their shopping habits and for many, this change may become the new norm.
#3 – Content the biggest differentiator
Great content builds trust with your customers and is critical to the success of your campaign. If you get it right, it helps to build positive brand reputation and then recommendations from your customers to others. You have to connect with your customers, educate them, “talk” to them and showcase your expertise in your sector so that they believe in you and are clear as to why they should buy your product.
Your strategy will also depend on the vertical – you may need to be super tailored to specific/niche markets but to a more universal market you can probably get away with a simpler approach and list the “unique selling benefit” (USB) of the product rather than being hyper targeted.
How you communicate that content is up to you – visually, through blog posts, whitepapers, etc but try and avoid a scatter gun approach in the hope that something will stick; it doesn’t work.
#4 – Focus on perceived value
Perceived value is measured by the price the public is willing to pay for a product or service, and for BFCM it is important to focus on this and not what the biggest percentage off might be. In marketing your product or service, you need to attempt to influence and increase its perceived value, which can emphasise qualities such as its aesthetic design, accessibility, or convenience.
We all love a bargain and customers will always be looking for “value” even if it’s only a slightly increased or more of a perceived value. From our experience over the last four years we have seen brands focus less on sales messaging throughout these events and look to increase the perceived value rather than just a discount. This helps businesses differentiate themselves while building brand equity, which leads to increased Average Order Value (AOV) and Lifetime Value (LTV).
As an example, during BFCM, many clients will give away a branded T-shirt or a trinket with any purchase over a certain amount, rather than offering a discount on the actual product. You can even bring in your shipping as an added value by creating, for example, free next day shipping. This allows the brands to keep pricing consistent across retail and online and generate more profit as the gift typically will cost less than a comparable discount.
#5 – Take risks but avoid key mistakes
I would summarise this period by saying it is very much “risk and reward” – this year the barrier to entry is higher due to increased competition, and therefore it will be more expensive. You can avoid any risk and stay safe, but you will miss out on the rewards.
In taking more risks you can be more competitive but avoid these key mistakes:
- Don’t leave it too late to start your campaign
- Not stress testing your offer, your product, your logistics in ensuring your products are delivered in time
- Not allocating enough spend
People will be in a purchase state of mind and therefore, you can win big and you can lose big – this is my summary of Black Friday so, without intending to sound like a boy scout, you need to “be prepared”.
Tim Hyde is founder and director of social media marketing ageny TWH Media, whose clients include Adidas and Apple Music