Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2020 assumptions

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday looming in the retail calendar, I’ve taken a look at the changing landscape to make some predictions and informed suggestions for what this year’s Black Friday might look like, with particular focus on the change in brand strategy and promotional campaigns as a result of COVID.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are increasingly becoming the largest shopping days of the year. What started only a few years ago as a solely American phenomenon has gradually crept over to the UK and is now firmly established as the biggest and best time in the retail calendar other than Christmas.

However, as with so much this year, coronavirus is likely to significantly change what Black Friday and Cyber Monday look like, rewarding those retailers who have established their digital presence and leaving behind those who have been slow to adapt, behind.

Moving (more) online

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have been increasingly online in recent years, and with the global coronavirus pandemic, the days of the ‘doorbuster’ deals seen in shops and queues forming overnight are probably firmly behind us.

With social distancing, local lockdowns, and limits to shop capacity, it would be very surprising if any brick-and-mortar stores were encouraging this kind of behaviour this year. In-store events will likely be replaced with online-only offers this year.

However, with the majority of deals moving online, and with the majority of people working from home, we expect to see huge numbers of people trying to access the big retailer’s websites throughout the day, potentially crashing the sites under heavy traffic load. Even before the pandemic, many retailers struggled under the strain of extra site traffic – visits to the top 100 shopping sites increased by 137% on Black Friday and 112% on Cyber Monday last year (SimilarWeb). If the sites do manage to stay up, some of the biggest deals will probably sell out within minutes, so be ready to stand by your refresh button if there’s a deal you really want to get hold of!

Brands get social.

We are seeing more and more brands make use of the in-platform conversion ads offered by Facebook and Instagram. These ad formats allow users to buy products advertised directly within the ad, without ever having to leave the platform.

This Black Friday will likely see some companies making even greater use of these, as they can promote specific products and deals to highly targeted audiences. We might also see followers of some accounts rewarded with exclusive deals, promoted only on certain brands or influencers’ pages. 

According to data from Adobe, 57% of consumers get ideas for purchases from social media, and 20% have bought something based on a social media influencer’s recommendation 

Unprecedented times (for poor creativity).

While brands have had a lot of time now to come to terms with the restrictions imposed by social distancing and the change in people’s behaviours, we expect Black Friday creative campaigns to focus on the same areas we have seen throughout lockdown. So while we may have moved past every ad mentioning “These unprecedented times”, and encouraging everyone to “stay safe”, you should still expect ads to focus on things like ‘togetherness’, ‘family’, and a whole heap of nostalgia.

It starts earlier every year!

Much like Christmas, Black Friday sales have been starting earlier and earlier every year, with many retailers starting their sales on the Monday prior, and often continuing until the following Friday. Some are even predicting Amazon will start their deals from the beginning of November!

Many retailers, especially those in the US, have indicated that they will have deals running throughout November, rather than concentrating on a single day or weekend.

What this means for the consumer is that deals will be available for longer, but we may also see a greater focus on ‘lightning’-style deals, available for very short amounts of time, promoted at regular intervals across the week.

Better deals on different products.

Black Friday was traditionally the date where retailers would earn enough revenue to put them ‘in the black’, and with the tough year shops have had, we expect them to put an even greater focus on Black Friday this year to try to recoup some of these losses.

This will probably translate into greater discounts across a wider range of products as shops try to offload all their surplus stock accumulated throughout the year. Last year, the average discount applied to electronics was 37% (SpendMeNot), this is likely to be even higher this year so retailers can clear their unsold inventory ahead of the launch of next years models.

We might also expect to see greater discounts this year because many brands will have had to get their online eCommerce and delivery infrastructure in place during lockdown, and the efficiencies this brings can be passed on to the consumer in the form of even greater discounts. The types of products on offer will probably be different this year too.

We might also expect to see greater discounts this year because many brands will have had to get their online eCommerce and delivery infrastructure in place during lockdown, and the efficiencies this brings can be passed on to the consumer in the form of even greater discounts.

The types of products on offer will probably be different this year too.

People’s buying habits have changed during the pandemic, and we expect to see the deals offered to align with this change in behaviour. Expect to see big discounts on loungewear, office furniture, and exercise equipment.

Overall, while it’s been a difficult year for everyone, the movement of more retailers online, coupled with the poor performance these companies have seen so far this year, all adds up to a serious opportunity for consumers to make huge savings.

As ever with Black Friday and Cyber Monday though, remember to do your research and be sure that the ‘deals’ being offered on particular products are actually savings and not just a discount on an artificially inflated price!

If you keep a level head and look for discounts on products you actually want/need, rather than being drawn in by huge cuts on random items, this Black Friday and Cyber Monday is probably the best time to buy.

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Written by Joe Marshall