The holidays are here and brands ought to be on their toes. Marketers are forecasting this season as the biggest holiday shopping year ever. The continuous economic recovery and improved financial stability of consumers will definitely impact their holiday spending this year.
Despite the challenges and uncertainties during the height of the pandemic last year, Black Friday generated the second largest online spending in US history. In fact, the total Black Friday spend amounted to 9 billion dollars. That’s a whopping 21.6% increase from the previous year. With health restrictions imposed in some states and fears of the virus still lingering, we expect Black Friday sales to again be more competitive online than in-store.
At this time, brands should already have a well-planned strategy for their holiday sales. However, shifts in consumer preferences can necessitate changes in strategies you may have planned a year in advance. Here are some Black Friday buying trends you ought to know. Gain insights from these trends, so you can adapt your marketing initiatives to create the best possible shopping experiences for your customers.
Black Friday Buying Trends for 2021:
Black Friday Buying Trends to Watch in 2021
Boost in disposable income leads to higher purchasing power
Lockdowns, layoffs, and business closures in 2020 left many consumers with limited disposable income and fears of an uncertain future. We see a turnaround from this with the reopening of the economy this year.
Increasing vaccination rates, stimulus payments, and reforms are gradually boosting the economy. Many businesses have recovered from the slump, and people have adapted to hybrid work models. Increased employment and rebound from financial constraints have resulted in higher disposable income for consumers. With this increase in purchasing power, brands are now able to deliver high-quality products with better markups. If you’re on Amazon, now’s the time to leverage an Amazon keyword tool to grab a chunk of the massive sales forecasted this holiday season.
Increased consumer preference for shops with multiple payment options
Whether in brick-and-mortar shops or eCommerce sites, consumers show a preference for sellers that offer many different payment options. Aside from debit and credit cards, shoppers also use e-wallets, prepaid cards, gift cards, and cryptocurrencies for shopping and dining. Financing options such as 0% installments and buy-now-pay-later schemes entice shoppers to purchase big-ticket holiday gifts.
However, not all businesses are able to afford costly digital payment solutions. If you are a small retail brand or a new entrepreneur, you can still meet this consumer need by partnering with a solutions provider. Look for one that has a POS system that enables multiple payment options.
Delivery and pickup options will give businesses an edge
Even with more relaxed health restrictions and increased vaccination rates, many consumers are still wary of going out and mingling with crowds. Many still prefer having their orders delivered or picked up from the store. So businesses that offer more convenient options for delivery and pickup will stand to outperform those that do not.
If you have your own brick-and-mortar shop, win over more customers by offering in-store and curbside pickup options. If you have ample space, drive-through pickups will even be better.
A younger demographic will dominate Black Friday sales
Anything tech is understandably close to the younger generation aged 25 to 44. It’s the millennial and Gen Z consumers who are camping out in virtual storefronts to get first dibs when Black Friday opens. Both segments were born into the digital age and use online tools for just about everything. While they do not exclusively go digital in purchasing goods, they are known to spend a considerable amount of money on online shopping—most especially when it means enjoying more value for their money in terms of discounts and freebies. 66% of millennials admitted that they would actually make a switch to another brand that offers at least a 30% discount.
In the US alone, there are over 20 million Gen Z consumers with a total spending power of $35 million. And this only accounts for about 70% of the Gen Z population that has been surveyed to have made an online purchase in 2020. With the millennial population, online stores have nearly 90 million potential customers with a total spending power of $2.5 trillion.
To successfully tap this market, offer coupons and promotional deals and freebies in kind or in the form of service fee waivers. It would also be a good idea for brands to be on social media to connect with this market and create excitement and engagement for their products. The more popular platforms are Instagram and TikTok.
Omnichannel is still critical
Reaching out to consumers through omnichannel marketing remains to be the most effective strategy to keep brands top of mind. Millennials are more likely to be loyal to brands and stores that give them exceptional customer-centric experiences. The frictionless shopping experience in a reliable shopping platform should be supported by various other channels for customer touch points to create a strong connection with the customer.
Make sure that you have a solid eCommerce presence, follow your customers throughout the purchase process, and be intuitive enough to know when to deliver that nudge they need to make their purchase. Consistently deliver a personalized experience for your customers, no matter what channel they are on.
Heightened digital expectations from consumers
Consumers have become wiser when it comes to spending their money. Even the younger generation is not exactly as careless in handling their finances as they seem to the older generation. They just spend their money differently. The demand for digital is for great value in all aspects of the digital experience. The consumer has to feel good about the product to want to know more about it and eventually buy it. It’s less about impulse buys of branded items displayed on store windows but more about high product value delivered in a manner that delights the customer.
The challenge for businesses is to highlight and deliver great value—they should convince the customers that they are offering products of value, and they should make the customers feel valued. Knowing your customers is the key to being able to not only meet their expectations but also exceed them high enough to make them loyal customers. Gain significant insight into customer preferences and behavior by taking a closer look at customer information and transactional data.
Mobile shopping will be the fastest growing sales channel
The shift toward online shopping has also expanded beyond web-based platforms. Today’s smartphone models are now more packed with functionalities other than just calling and messaging. As such, mobile is forecasted to further propel the growth of eCommerce. The results of the June 2021 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey show that 44% of the respondents have bought products online on a daily or weekly basis using their mobile phones or smartphones. This is a steep increase from just 39% in the March survey.
To reach this market, businesses must make their platforms mobile-friendly. In previous years, consumers tended to switch devices to make online purchases, mainly because online shops were difficult to navigate using smartphones. But with a mobile-responsive online shop, you can provide these consumers with a seamless shopping experience without the hassle of switching devices.
Influencers still continue to have clout on consumers
Consumers today make their purchase decision based on the information that they find online and the recommendation of people they know. Many seek out influencers to check out products that they are thinking of buying and see what the influencer has to say about them. There are even consumers who follow influencers and pick products based on what they present in their posts.
While the influence status comes from the number of followers the endorser has on social media, it’s not just about numbers. The online clout should have been built from giving authentic reviews about the products presented. For some brands, the more preferred ambassadors are micro-influencers with smaller audiences who are more engaged. Brands have to consider working with influencers that match their brand culture and those who will present authentic brand promotions.
Consumers are going local
There’s a consciousness among consumers nowadays to support local businesses and communities. Results of market research have actually shown a marked preference for products that are locally sourced and ethically produced. There’s also a growing trend for products that have a positive impact and contribution to local communities. Consumers now are more likely to purchase products from brands that give back to the community rather than those just cashing in on profits.
Brands can add a ‘social enterprise’ component to their promotional campaigns. This, however, has to be done with care and sincerity. Partnering with a charity or choosing a community to give back to needs to be in line with what the brand truly stands for and supports. The message should be planned and crafted meticulously, as it should not come across as merely a gimmick to jack up sales.
Early sales, early shopping
With lockdowns and restrictions last year, brands experienced shipping delays, out-of-stock inventory, and supply chain issues. Customer delivery was consequently affected as well, and so consumers today are doing their holiday shopping early. The bigger eCommerce platforms have already announced their holiday sales early this year. For this year’s Black Friday, Amazon has launched over 10,000 Epic Deals with massive discounts on a range of products that’s perfect for holiday shopping and gifting. Some of the other bigger stores with their own online stores have also started their holiday promotions.
How Brands Can Prepare for Black Friday
Brands should ideally prepare for Black Friday a year ahead. It should be part of your annual integrated strategic marketing plan. The current business environment and economic landscapes, however, are riddled with abrupt changes that make it difficult to plan as far ahead. Tweaks and even full makeovers are often necessary to cope with more recent developments. Also, smaller businesses and retail startups might not have the capacity for such long-term preparations. As Black Friday is now on the horizon, the landscape is much clearer, and brands can quickly work on their sales and marketing strategy.
It is assumed that all the basics of knowing your customers and all the basics of marketing have already been covered. What now needs to be done is to identify what products to push, what channels to tap, and what messages to send. Do the math and make a compelling offer that will make it difficult for your customers to resist. Get things moving and drum up excitement in your social media accounts. If necessary, hire social media creators and managers to take care of your postings and engagements. You can get a sense of what’s popular and what your customers are most likely to buy when you ‘listen’ to their social media interactions. This should give you a good idea of what products you might have to bulk up on in your inventory.
Leverage Insights to Maximize Black Friday Sales
There is no doubt that eCommerce is growing bigger and stronger every day. With the health and economic crisis still looming all over the world, most consumers are still staying home. Even those in countries that have eased their restrictions are opting to still do their shopping online. It would be the wisest move for brands to fortify their online presence. The focus should be on creating an exciting place where customers can shop for products that give them more value. They have to provide products and shopping experiences that exceed their customers’ higher expectations.
Given last year’s experience, brands would definitely benefit from getting ready for the biggest digital sales day this year. Strategically building up promotions leading to Black Friday would be a good move to get into your customers’ shopping lists—you can even have an advance event cart that customers can fill up with promo items, so they can simply check out conveniently on the sale date. Leverage insights about your customers and their online shopping preferences and behavior. Gather your arsenal of digital tools and knowledge to deliver the best ever shopping experience to your customers.