Black Friday Weekend: How To Survive Without Going To Sale.
Christmas and Boxing Day aside, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the retail holidays of the year. It’s a weekend filled with dread and panic for retailers but joy and excitement for consumers. Whilst Black Friday was born an offline phenomenon in the US, it is now a worldwide event driven primarily by ecommerce and especially ecommerce leaders like Amazon.
However, over the past few years, some brands like Patagonia, Alohas, Ganni, Monki, have opted to stay out of the Black Friday rush.
Mostly it’s because their values do not align with idea of “purchasing for the sake of purchasing”. And with consumers being more and more aware of brand values and authenticity, if you are promoting your brand as ethical or sustainable you may want to think about how you approach Black Friday.
82% of shoppers want a consumer brand’s values to align with their own, and they’ll shop elsewhere if their needs are not met, regardless of price. (consumer goods, 2022)
But even if you’re not a sustainable or circular brand, you may still wish to move away from offering discounts across your entire product range. We know how harmful consistent discounting is – and you can find out more about that here.
With that in mind, here’s how you can prepare for Black Friday without preparing for Black Friday.
If you have previously taken part in Black Friday activity, you will have an existing customer base who will expect you to do so again this year. The most important thing is to communicate with this audience. It doesn’t have to be a huge campaign (unless you want it to be) but carefully explaining your reasons for not taking part this year to your current customers ensures that no-one is left surprised and disappointed when the weekend rolls around. We would hope that communicating this change in advance with reasons such as a commitment to ethical trading, sustainability, the combat against fast fashion etc will help solidify your brand values and help build a better relationship with your loyal customers.
Yes, there will be some consumers who will be disappointed that they can’t grab a bargain from your brand this year. Perhaps it is the only time of the year that they can afford your products. But your brand reputation will be protected which will have greater long term incremental gains that a short sighted discount.
A Different Incentive.
Just because you are not offering a monetary incentive doesn’t mean you cannot offer another incentive to encourage consumers to purchase. The following examples are ways in which other brands have previously incentivized consumers outside of offering a discount.
Cariuma - Instead of offering discounts across the Black Friday period, sustainable, B Corp footwear brand Cariuma kept items at full price but increased the number of trees planted for each shoe sale from 1 to 10.
AllBirds – Allbirds actually increased their prices over Black Friday weekend in 2020. $1 was added onto the price of every product. Matched with another dollar from the brand, all extra profits were donated to the charity Friday’s For Future.
In order to work out what would work for you, you need to have a deep understanding of 2 things.
1. What your brand’s capabilities are. Are you in a financial position to donate extra funds to charity? Do you have the resource and connections for a larger campaign with an alternative incentive?
2. The needs, expectations and values of your audience. Ultimately, your incentive needs to resonate with your audience on a deeper level so you need to have 100% confidence in their values.
You may decide that the best thing for your brand is just “business as usual” in which case, communicate with your current customers as previously explained and carry on as normal.
Take a Year Long View.
Short-sightedness is the thief of growth. And so is relying on Black Friday sales to meet your Q4, H2 or yearly revenue figures. If you’re planning on skipping the sales this year, you’ll need to plan for that revenue to be generated across the rest of the year and that means taking a year long view of your ecommerce strategy.
You’ll likely have to reach new audiences in new territories; increase conversion rate to make the most of your current volume of traffic; or increase your AOV. If you can hit all three of these, you’ll be in a great position to meet targets without any kind of promotional periods.
But it will be hard to unachievable if you are looking at and making decisions based on day to day or week to week performance. Take a step back and start looking much longer term.
Finally, try not to panic. It can be daunting to go against the grain and not take part in what is arguably the busiest weekend for retail. The trick is to be confident in your marketing strategy as a whole, ensuring that you are communicating your value and story with your audiences and building relationships all year round.
If audiences can see the value in your brand, they won’t need a discount to encourage them to buy.