Black Friday is no longer a time when many people queue up at stores in the early hours. These days people shop online, hoping to find a good deal. This is where digital marketing agencies, like Ecrubox, step in. A lot of preparation has to go into online sales across all channels - Paid, Organic, Email and Website Development. However, the discount offered by the seller plays quite a significant role in whether or not they will generate sales.

Retailers' hesitation in providing a notably strong offer during the Black Friday period negatively impacts the purchase behaviour of the consumer during these sales. Even so, some luxury brands prefer not to embrace Black Friday at all, partly for reasons of luxe feel (exclusivity) and partly because of a non-discounting-profile. This includes a number of our clients. However, stealth sales to groups already within a funnel are known to happen. In this way, they are still in the Black Friday spike but don’t become a brand subjected to discount expectations.

People expect to see a stronger deal on Black Friday, but now this isn’t always the case. Consumer Watchdog research has been released for the 2022 season involving 208 Black Friday deals through 8 home and tech retailers (1). Only 2% of these deals were cheaper or not available at their usual price within the six months before or after Black Friday. People are more wise than ever when it comes to tracking such information and a fake deal just won't work anymore.

At Ecrubox we track Black Friday every year as it builds, peaks and concludes for all of our clients and across the wider related sectors. AB testing can be done on sale lengths in the year leading up to Black Friday. Some of our more accessible brands, appealing to the less affluent markets, will still reach a substantial discount promotion and short communication period. Longer promos with weaker offers no longer cut it.

Pawel Lorenc, our Director of Data Analysis and Insights here at Ecrubox, shared insight on how to better approach promotions based on Black Friday 2023. Promotions are broken down into seasonal promotions such as Dry January, Valentines, Easter etc. and general promotions such as Black Friday or Father's Day.

5 Tips on How To Approach Promotions

1 - Understanding Your Target Audience

When approaching promotions you need to tailor the promotion towards the specific need or preferences of your targeted audience. Understanding your audience will help you produce informative, relevant and engaging promotional content that will cater to their needs and values, not just their wallet. Building promotional content based on your target audience will help you to attract a customer with a strong repeat transaction possibility.

2 - Monitor Data

It is important that during the promotion period, all data and analytics are monitored. Unpredictable situations may occur during the promotion which may lead to some ad hoc changes and adjustments may need to be made to meet demands in the competitive landscape.

3 - Provide Real Value

The promotion should provide real value i.e. the promotion shouldn’t be lower than a normal sale. For example, if during the year your regular promotion is 5% off or if a user signs up to your newsletter and gets a 10% discount this will be classed as a general promotion. Your seasonal promotion can’t be lower or equal to your general promotion because its value will be lowered and your target audience will not answer to the promotion in the way that you would like to see.

4 - Engage

Finally, the last thing Pawel considered was to actively engage with your audience. Comments on promotions, including the negative ones, should be responded to and questions should be answered. You should be on top of any issues or problems people might have. You’d be surprised how many brands ignore this live feedback loop during one of the most opportune times of learning.

5 - AB Testing

The way to approach discounting also depends on your company’s profitability. If the company can adjust the discount offered, an AB test can be run to see which offer resonates best with your target market. Multiple years or at least seasons of data should be tagged in order to not just record the uplift but the impact on long term customer value as well as the reaction from those who bought recently or had considered doing so before your promotion launched. Understanding the promotional game takes time and without planning, both the customer and the brand tend to suffer.

Black Friday 2023

The trend seen is that Black Friday offers have been promoted much earlier during the 2023 season. In Pawel’s opinion, this trend has the potential to  “destroy the core value” of Black Friday. Black Friday originally ran solely on the Friday until Cyber Monday was introduced as a digital extension. Now, Black Friday sales have gone beyond the long weekend.  Pawel thinks Friday to Monday is “the longest time that we should actually offer the promotions.” If Black Friday offers continue to be promoted much earlier, it will lose its sense of urgency for consumers and therefore appeal to purchase.

Our advice to clients is to consult deeply and fully on the wide impact of the Black Friday proposition. The event may have simply imploded now for the UK market and has always been problematic for luxury brands. A more cultured, highly individualised approach to customer satisfaction and excitement might be the right replacement. For those who still discount, keep it short, keep it real and join the conversation during your event. Otherwise, maybe focus on what more you can give a customer rather than how many Pounds you'll cut.

Axelle, Digital Marketing Graduate