Black Friday was introduced into the United Kingdom by Amazon in 2010. Shortly after, it was turbocharged by Asda’s headline-grabbing, in-store frenzy in 2013 – which comically included fisticuffs over heavily discounted Blaupunkt televisions.
With IMRG reporting that consumers spent £1.49bn over Black Friday last year, it’s undeniable that Black Friday has become a significant event in the shopping calendar heralding the arrival of the festive season, for retailers and consumers alike.
Against a backdrop of uncertain trading conditions hampering consumer confidence, the sustainability of many brands and retailers arguably rests on successful fourth quarters. Black Friday presents a seismic opportunity of heightened shopping activity for brands and retailers to capitalise on.
With the countdown to the final weekend in November rapidly approaching – and some retailers already breaking cover with sales – brands might think that the fate of these efforts is now in the hands of their retail partners to deliver big numbers. After all, most commercial conversations, trade negotiations and demand-generation preparation for this period of heightened consumer activity has already been finalised.
However, this is a wild misconception, and even brands that don’t own the retailing and distribution of their product can still bolster performance without the need for additional margin-erosive and race-to-the-bottom discounting activity.
But what can brands really do across their retail and marketplace offerings to stand out from competitors and make the most of the Black Friday period?
Get the basics right
A high proportion of brands are still under-optimising product pages across retailers and marketplaces such as Amazon; it only takes a few minutes to find examples of highly sought-after brands with poor photography and ambiguous or uninspiring product descriptions. Whilst some of this can be attributed to the retailer, brands that aren’t proactively monitoring and tightening content across their products are essentially leaving sales on the table. We know from various studies that eCommerce merchandising plays a critical role in decision making, with as many as 87% of consumers rating product content as extremely important when deciding to buy with video content increasing conversion by as much as 86% (Forrester).
Aside from the basics, a well-optimised product page is paramount in driving conversion. It’s also a common factor in determining a retailer’s internal site search. With 82% of smartphone users reportedly consulting their phones before making an in-store purchase (Bazaarvoice, 2018), it’s evident that digital plays a significant role in product discovery and research. To capitalise on the intensified volume and intent over the coming weeks, brands should make it a priority to ensure products have reflective and impactful product titles, benefit-driven and immersive descriptions, strong photography and rich lifestyle-led video content where viable.
Stand out from the crowd with media
Offering discounts is simply not enough for brands to stand out over the Black Friday period. An increasing number of retailers now offer bespoke onsite media opportunities for brands to engage in, alongside Amazon Sponsored Products or network-wide platforms such as Criteo Sponsored Products. These allow brands to boost the visibility of products through a pay-per-click model on targeted search results across various marketplaces.
“With more product discovery, research and purchasing now taking place online – and given the importance of visibility in a world of the infinite shelf – retail media presents an excellent opportunity to gain an advantage over the Black Friday period by standing out against competitors,” said Nicole Kivel, Director of Criteo Retail Media. Certainly, prominence as close to the point of transaction as possible during this period of heightened consumer interest is an exceedingly attractive prospect for most brands.
Whilst some caution should be applied to ensure that brands are efficiently and profitably considering retail media as a key part of their mix, it unquestionably offers brands an opportunity to protect, and in most instances, punch well above their share over this crucial trading period without the need for further discounting.
Extend the consideration period beyond a single weekend
Brands looking to unlock potential in the final quarter should extend the consideration period for both brand and products beyond the Black Friday weekend.
“Taking part in promotional build-up events with our retail partners or considering tactical above-the-line activity in the weeks running up to Black Friday allows us to get our products to the forefront of customer’s minds, and into the consideration set, ahead of the Black Friday noise,” explains Jonnie Norgate, Customer Marketing Manager at Electrolux. “Extending the consideration period beyond a single weekend has definitely been effective for us.”
Awareness and consideration are almost as vital in a consumer’s decision-making process as price and availability. Stealing the thunder of competitors in the lull ahead of the disruptive Black Friday period is advantageous, particularly in larger-ticket categories and considered purchases such as consumer electricals, luxury and potentially even beauty.
With a mere couple of weeks to run, the fate of a strong Black Friday campaign is entirely achievable beyond the strength of deals and availability through retail partners. Proactive brands can absolutely drive awareness, share and ultimately sales throughout the Black Friday, Cyber Monday and festive period by simply optimising the basics, leaning on emerging retail media solutions and thinking about widening the consideration period of their brand and associated product catalogue.
Written by Stuart Johnston,Global Commerce Associate Director at Zenith