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Making the most of promotional days – Black Friday and beyond…

10.01.2018 - by Jordan Bradley


We’ve had some interesting discussions in the office over the last few weeks, particularly about Christmas shopping and the impact of Black Friday. We thought we’d share a brief insight into what we discussed, before we leave the 2017 Christmas season behind.

The main topic on the agenda was the extent to which brands have really nailed the long-term marketing opportunity of promotional events like Black Friday, alongside direct revenue generation.

Because of the discounts available on Black Friday, of course we see a spike in spending that day. In particular, for expensive technology or household items such as TVs and appliances. After a month on month (MoM) increase in sales from October to November 2017, the Office for National Statistics said “Retailers’ feedback suggests that ‘Black Friday’ events contributed to the monthly increase in household goods stores, with electrical household appliances making the largest contribution to the growth.”

The BBC’s Black Friday spending forecast also predicted a year on year (YoY) increase of 15% for online spending (to £1.15bn) and 4% YoY increase for instore spending (to £1.45bn), suggesting that we’re spending more money and that online shopping is particularly significant for Black Friday shoppers.

And Google Trends shows us that interest in Black Friday has been growing gradually over time. In 2017, interest had never been higher.

Google Trends graph for Black FridayGoogle Trends interest over time for term “Black Friday” from 2004 to present (accessed 08.01.2018)

So, we know consumers see Black Friday as a milestone in the lead up to Christmas because of the opportunity to bag discounts on big ticket items.

Doing Black Friday differently

The outcome of all this is that retailers may feel pressure to roll with the tide – towards big discounts on Black Friday, ensuring their customers don’t stray to other stores for their Christmas shopping. But the benefit of Black Friday doesn’t have to be limited to potential sales on the day.

There are brands that have found a way to stand out from the crowd by focusing on marketing rather than sales. We think these are the more interesting stories to tell about Black Friday, because they also contain really valuable principles that can be applied throughout the year.

Giving to charity
In 2016, the ethical outdoors brand Patagonia donated all of its Black Friday sale profits to grass roots environmental organisations. This is right in line with their brand, which already donates 1% of every sale to charity.

Sure, they missed out the direct fruits of their Black Friday sale. But by seeing it as an opportunity to build their brand and cement their relationship with customers – instead of a chance to rake in some extra pre-Christmas profits – the fruits of their Black Friday activities will last likely much longer; in the form of customer loyalty and warmth towards their brand.

Releasing special editions
For Black Friday 2017, cosmetics brand Lush released a limited edition soap, which also had a charity tie in. There were just 14,600 pieces of their ‘Orangutan Soap’ available. They promoted it with the tag line “When they’re gone, they’re gone” – which was also a reference to the charity they were supporting with the promotion; the Sumatran Orangutan Society.

This limited edition release gave Lush the chance to gain Black Friday publicity (cutting through a lot of noise), while doing something that stood out from other brands. It’s also a product their customers – who are always looking out for the newest Lush products to try out – will love.

Lush orangutan soap
Image credit:

These are just a couple of real world examples that have really stood out to us in the last couple of years, and something to keep in mind when planning for Black Friday and the Christmas season in a year’s time. However…

The concepts of building loyalty, and an expectation of innovation, are applicable any time of year.

If your marketing strategy helps build strong customer relationships, you’ll have the benefit of being a favoured choice when it comes to days like Black Friday, where the competition is especially fierce.

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