For many ecommerce brands, Black Friday is the biggest date in the calendar year.
But more and more brands and their ecommerce agency are standing against this campaign opportunity.
In this article, we explore some of the reasons why brands might be choosing to avoid Black Friday promotions.
Black Friday began in America as a day to be anticipated and celebrated. It occurs after Thanksgiving and marks the start of the Christmas shopping season, with many stores offering highly promoted sales at discounted prices.
Black Friday was so popular in America that it spread all over the world, with customers queuing overnight to jump on the biggest and best shopping deals. In 2021, UK shoppers spent £4.8 billion. But according to Finder, this is expected to fall to £3.95 billion this year…
The Black Friday bloat
In recent years, the Black Friday event has expanded to weeks rather than a day. So it’s just not as unique anymore. Products seem to permanently be on sale, meaning the sense of urgency and FOMO has disappeared.
Supply chain disruption
Fewer retailers are offering genuine discounts. Because of pandemic-caused supply chain disruption, products can’t be manufactured and shipped quickly enough.
We have all heard about the economic crisis we are currently facing. Tighter budgets call for less shopping.
Perhaps the biggest reason for Black Friday’s downfall is the trend towards conscious consumerism. Gen Z shoppers in particular are trying to close the gap between conscience and commerce, which doesn’t fit well with the “buy, buy, buy” attitude that drives Black Friday. We are seeing new events emerging, such as:
- “Giving Tuesday” which focuses on giving back and kinder capitalism
- “Green Friday” which occurs a week before Black Friday and encourages consumers not to rush to the shops and instead choose to shop sustainable brands or not shop at all. The growing number of brands who have signed up to this movement are all required to complete a 7-point sustainability framework, made public on their profiles during the event.
Black Friday contradicts sustainability-focused brands
For any brands that lead with a sustainability-focused message, taking part in a shopping event focused on overproduction and overconsumption could be detrimental to their image. Involvement could signal a lack of commitment to the brand’s values and overall narrative, and as such, could damage the goodwill and loyalty of both customers and employees.
Here are some examples of alternative campaigns throughout the Black Friday period run by sustainability-focused brands:
- IKEA only discounts its sustainable products that ‘you and the planet will love’. Combined with their buy back and resell offering, IKEA’s sustainability message remains strong.
- Trainer brand Allbirds flipped the script and raised prices on all items by $1, donating the extra proceeds to Greta Thunberg’s climate activism movement.
- The Ordinary’s parent company, Deciem has in previous years shut down its physical stores and ecommerce for the day. Instead, they hold ‘Slowvember’ – to reduce the impulse purchasing caused by the Black Friday flash sales, they reduce everything on their site throughout the whole month of November.
Price cuts undermine luxury brand value
Whilst running deep or frequent sales can improve revenue in the short term, in the long term it can dilute brand equity. By running annual mega price cuts, brands train customers to believe their products aren’t worth paying full price the rest of the year.
Luxury brands can make their customers feel like they’re getting good value in alternative ways that don’t involve running mass product discounts:
- Focus on corporate social responsibility by giving a percentage of profits to charity or offsetting carbon emissions for each purchase
- Create limited edition bundles exclusive to Black Friday
- Offer complimentary extras such as personalisation
Alternatively, luxury brands can use Black Friday as an opportunity to reward their most loyal or referring customers with added-value offerings:
- Host VIP events for existing customers – this could be an in-store event or an invite-only Black Friday sale online
- Offer a chance to win a brand experience, such as a factory tour or personal shopping
Attracts disloyal customers
Black Friday deals can attract low-value customers who are looking for an offer rather than brand differentiation. These types of customers often won’t shop with the brand at all from one Black Friday to the next and therefore won’t make repeat purchases or generate word-of-mouth marketing for the brand.
Alienates loyal customers
Whilst Black Friday deals can be good tactic for getting new customers over the line, it can also result in disgruntled existing customers who are not offered the same deals. Brand need to be careful not to forget their most loyal customers whilst chasing first-timers. Because according to Accenture, 57% of consumers will spend more on brands to which they are loyal.
Black Friday sales can provide an uplift in revenue, an influx of new customers, and generate an increase in brand awareness.
But in the current economic and environmental climate, brands need to be careful. Holding brash, flash Black Friday sales can be detrimental to their customer loyalty, brand value, and overarching brand mission.
Instead, brands with a sustainability-led message should focus on ways to counteract the hyper-consumption and wastage caused by mass shopping events, and luxury brands should look at ways to reward their most loyal customers in a more high-end way.
Propeller is an ecommerce agency that produces bespoke builds and creative customisations that deliver a flawless online shopping experience for startups and established brands across a host of industries including fashion, wellness, FMCG and more.