Are you ready for Black Friday?

Black Friday, is considered an American tradition. Following on from Thanksgiving it has been considered the beginning of the Christmas shopping season for many years, with Cyber Monday evolving as an extension of Black Friday to encourage people to shop online. These two days provide retailers the chance to run heavily discounted promotional offers for consumers to encourage sales and kick start the Christmas shopping season.

At a first glance I think most consumers are extremely grateful for a chance to find themselves a great deal and get a head start on Christmas presents in such a hectic period of family gathering and parties. Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer brands the chance to enhance awareness and build brand equity especially when the consumer has a good customer journey. Many brands participate in Black Friday so how can you make your campaign unique? In the past Amazon have managed to stand out and make shoppers come back for more by creating a ‘Deals of the Day’ segment split up into Available’ and ‘Missed’, this is a great way to create a sense of urgency. It can also be dependent on your brand for instance, Marvel were able to put their artistic skills to use and include an aptly designed Cyber Monday campaign for fans.

However, there is an argument to say that this deal focused period can diminish brand value as it takes away from the brands exclusivity. Brands such as Bose and Apple do not need to offer discounts to drive sales due to the quality of their products, they will always offer the latest in technology and therefore always appeal to consumers. Ikea on the other hand insist their focus is on making affordable furniture available to as many people as possible and have said “Our ambition is to offer everyday low prices all year round, which is why we don’t take part in temporary discounting events.”

From a brand perspective a lot of time and preparation goes in to this occasion with planning starting months in advance. Advertisers think carefully about the strength of their offers and their product value, they consider when is the optimal time to execute their offer and most importantly how should they promote their offers? I decided to explore what happens when brands decided to take a different approach to Black Friday and not just offer discounts across all channels.

In 2015, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) created their own #OptOutside campaign. They closed all stores on Black Friday in 2015 and paid 12,000 employees “so they can do what they love most—be outside.”  With the hashtag #OptOutside encouraging fans to share their outdoor experiences on social media. This led to exponentially greater engagement and earned media attention as most major outlets and morning shows covered the campaign.

In 2016, Fat Face donated £100,000 of the profits it made on Black Friday to good causes instead of offering discounts in its stores and online. Through other charitable events such as Christmas jumper days and pub quizzes, Fat Face donated almost £200,000 to 221 charities local to its stores and chosen by its staff.

Overall, from a brand perspective Black Friday is not necessarily just about offering discounts, as being different can also have its rewards and have a positive influence on brand image. Many factors come into play such as the types of products you sell and what the company stands for, but the company needs to decide what is the best approach for them at that moment in time.

Eleni Savva

Eleni's main responsibility is to provide contact between the UK office and HR in Munich, while working across the UK team to support on a variety of projects.

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