Lessons from Black Friday

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You’d be hard pressed to have not noticed Black Friday just gone, with advertising for deals splashed across social media and nearly every website. Since 2005, Black Friday has been the busiest shopping day of the year in the USA, and its global popularity is evidenced through the news every year since then.

According to a report by the Office of National Statistics, sales in Great Britain have been growing faster in November than in December since 2015, suggesting people are choosing to do their Christmas shopping early and take advantage of deals offered across the Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday. There are a number of other reasons which may have also encouraged shoppers to head out in November, including better weather, but Black Friday is certainly the biggest contributor to November’s growing sales figures.

However, this year, according to credit card data, spending on Black Friday has actually decreased. While Barclaycard, which processes half of all UK card payments, reported an increase of 10% in transactions compared to 2017, the value of spending had fallen by 12% on last year. The managing director of Barclaycard Payment Solutions, Konrad Keeling, said this “suggests that, while Black Friday is clearly encouraging shoppers to buy, consumers are more likely to be purchasing smaller ‘treat’ products, rather than splashing out on high-end items.”

Despite early data suggesting that overall amount of money spent has fallen, online spending has increased by 47%, exactly as predicted. With perks such as avoiding both bad weather and in-store Black Friday chaos, rising numbers of shoppers have been choosing to grab a bargain from the comfort of their own home – this is a phenomenon we have seen year-round in many sectors, as explored in our recent report on menswear. However, the preference for online shopping is further exaggerated on Black Friday – last year, for example, John Lewis had its single busiest hour of online shopping ever on the date, despite visitors to shopping centres, retail parks and high streets being down 8%.

But who were some of the big winners this year (and who needs to improve), according to digital data? onefourzero analysed data from some popular brands across the weekend to discover who UK consumers were talking about, and how, during this Black Friday.

We first looked at Liz Earle, who was ranked by Which? as the best online retail website. Given their high ranking by Which?, who survey consumers, it is unsurprising to see that 76% of online sentiment towards the brand over the weekend was positive, with their offers being described with phrases such as “amazing Black Friday deal”. However, most of the chatter surrounding the brand was on Black Friday itself, with post volume declining by a huge 99% across the weekend, suggesting that, perhaps, the beauty company failed to capitalise as much as expected on the weekend.

It then seemed only fair to compare them to the worst online retailer website according to Which? – Homebase. While the home improvement retailer experienced a much steadier amount of conversation across the weekend, decreasing only by 14%, just 21% of these conversations were positive. When diving further into this data, there was only one customer post mentioning Homebase’s Black Friday deals, and three referring to an article which listed their deals. In fact, most conversations surrounding Homebase were general customer enquiries or comments. While the one customer mentioning Black Friday described Homebase’s deals as “great”, it seems the brand has failed to explore the Black Friday opportunity properly. There could be many reasons for this, but it is interesting that such a large, well-known brand chose not to engage.

We also decided to take a look at one of the popular online fashion brands we first explored in our recently published Menswear report, boohooMAN, who even had a ‘Black Friday Pre-Party’ offering up to 50% off products and cheaper next day delivery on the day before Black Friday. boohooMAN specifically targets an age range who are more likely to spend more on Black Friday – research prior to Black Friday found that Generation X planned to spend £264 on average in the sales, the highest amount across all age groups. This spending pattern was reflected in who was engaging in conversations about the brand online, with 46% of posts coming from users aged 17 and below, a huge proportion. boohooMAN also created a high amount of conversation, with 7754 posts across the weekend and an increasing number towards the end – up by 166% as they also promoted their Cyber Monday deals. It seems boohooMAN have, once again, got an excellent marketing and online positioning strategy.

Another sector that often offers excellent Black Friday deals is electrics, with stores such as Currys leading the way in terms of their promotions. However, 37% of online conversation about the retailer was negative, which can strongly affect a business – research shows that as little as one bad review can put a potential customer off from making a purchase because 84% of people trust online reviews as much as friends.

Finally, we looked at the department store John Lewis’ performance, after their successes last year. It seems they have been successful again on the overall online sentiment, with 55% of conversations being positive across the weekend. Yet with 14% of sentiment being negative, this also leaves room for improvement for a brand that focusses of people.

Black Friday is a great moment for businesses to reflect on their successes and challenges, as it can act as a microcosm of the year overall – both in terms of how customers are spending and what they think about the brand. Many lessons can be learned through digital data analysis both of specific moments and around the year – and these lessons can be implanted in time for next sales.

To find out more about how onefourzero’s data analysis and insights can help you analyse the market and evaluate a brand’s equity to identify opportunities for growth & potential risks, click here or contact fleur@onefourzerogroup.com