A mainstay in US culture for decades, Black Friday didn’t arrive in the UK until 2010 when e-commerce retailer Amazon promoted a range of discounts to consumers. Britain has been hooked ever since. Traditionally marking the start of the holiday season stateside, it has become a worldwide phenomenon, expanding to a four-day weekend shopping extravaganza. The UK leads the way outside the US with an estimated £7.8 billion spent in 2017 between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Thanks to the burgeoning power of e-commerce, sales growth increases year-on-year. Retailers battle it out to offer the best deals and attract the most shoppers but with competition hotter than ever, they need to ensure their activation is thought out well in advance.
How brands can prepare for Black Friday
Start by asking the ever-important retail questions: Why are they participating in the first place? Does the event present an opportunity to bring new consumers into the brand or product category, especially from a demographic that isn’t very engaged? What is the objective of each deal promoted? Are they generating truly incremental sales? Can Black Friday be used to push a product that hasn’t performed well in order to maintain a listing? Can it be used to up-sell consumers into more premium products?
Though the anticipation of Black Friday combined with shopper excitement for the holiday season generates significant sales, it is important to keep in mind that discounting can have implications on ongoing pricing as well as long-term profitability. Slicing prices for the sake of participating is not the way forward, especially if it only sells to those who would have bought from the brand anyway. Remember that just because the event is deal-driven doesn’t mean that is all a brand should be aiming for. Running a deal without an activation plan to underpin it risks failing in its objective, or not selling at a rate retail partners will deem successful.
Creating a holistic activation plan that puts shopper-focused content and media at the forefront will ensure timely delivery of your objectives.
In order to map the shopper journey, brands need to first define the audiences they wish to target. This will allow them to access insights on shopper behaviour, identify the key touchpoints as well as any barriers that may impact consumers’ purchasing decisions for either the category or the brand itself.
Though now most retailers offer a range of media options for brands to reach shoppers, the level of sophistication differs greatly. Amazon stands out as it offers greater opportunities to reach audiences across the entire shopper journey. The e-commerce retailer recently restructured its advertising product ecosystem, providing ample room for brands to reach audiences both in the lead-up to and during the four-day weekend shopping event running from Black Friday to Cyber Monday.
Amazon can assist brands in a variety of targeting goals, from those considered in-market, having previously browsed a category, through to lifestyle segments for audiences that may be at the earliest stages of the shopper journey. Brands can target consumers as they search for products with Amazon’s Sponsored Ads, aiding in the discovery process when shoppers are actively engaged. They can also reach their target audience programmatically with Amazon DSP both within Amazon sites and devices, as well as through Amazon’s publishing partners.
Amazon Stores enables brands to truly shine. Media utilised at the earlier stages of the shopper journey can be targeted to a brand’s Amazon Store to drive conversions. Through the creation and curation of multi-page websites within Amazon’s own ecosystem, customisable features and a smart, branded URL that’s easy to remember, Amazon Stores offer a fully branded shopping experience, telling a brand’s story through text, image and video. Amazon Stores’ analytics suites monitor shopping behaviour, helping brands track ad performance within Amazon as well as beyond it.
Is this it?
Resting solely on a retailer’s media offerings to deliver your objectives will not take your brand that far. Once you have your objectives set and you have identified your target audience that will help you deliver them, look at how you can deploy a campaign and across what platforms.
Social media is increasingly being used in the discovery stages of the shopper journey in certain categories. Fashion-conscious consumers for example actively seek out inspiration and recommendations on social channels. A towering 52% of UK fashion consumers research products on Facebook and Instagram according to Facebook IQ. Not only do they use social media when considering a purchase, but the brand’s own channels play a pivotal part in their decision process.
Unified creative and consistency across platforms is key to ensuring a brand is front of mind at the point of purchase. That isn’t of course to suggest that every touchpoint should be repeating the same or a similar display. How a touchpoint is planned to be used in the context of the overall strategy will define the creative that needs to be featured. Therefore, planning all media and content assets ahead of time allows brands to optimise the journey and deliver on their objectives.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales will not fizzle out any time soon, thanks in part to the ever-growing power of e-commerce. The annual shopping event is an opportunity to increase brand awareness and engage consumers, new and old. But with millions of brands all vying for consumers’ attentions, simply offering discounts won’t do. Brands need to create an activation plan and seize the channels that can help them deliver their objectives thought content and media that boost brand awareness and further develop their story.