Black Friday is a worldwide phenomenon - why you should care
Historically an American holiday, Black Friday is gaining momentum around the world. And, as an international retailer, you need to pay attention. Here are a few countries where sales are booming:
- The UK: Amazon is said to have introduced Black Friday to the UK in 2010. Since then, it’s grown to become a major shopping peak with online sales reaching 169 percent above pre-season levels. Major retailers in the country such as Argos and Amazon offer Black Friday deals, and even Apple is rumored to begin providing consumers special discounts this year.
- In Brazil: Adoption in Brazil is particularly impressive with hundreds of retailers offering special discounts in store and online. Last year, online sales during Black Friday were about 12 times higher than before the seasonal peak. And, they remained up, one day after, on Cyber Monday (329 percent above the pre-holiday baseline). This year, despite the economic slowdown in the country, and feedback from unhappy consumers claiming that discounts weren’t as attractive as retailers had advertised, retailer companies are still expecting strong sales.
- In Sweden, Russia and Spain: Black Friday has taken off in each of these countries, as well. It’s the largest peak of the holiday season, with sales around 2.25 times pre-peak levels.
- Everywhere else: Even in countries that haven't widely adopted Black Friday, some retailers are offering special deals, and are seeing success. For example, in France, where Black Friday isn't a mainstream sales event, online retailers who did offer Black Friday deals in 2014 recorded a 82 percent increase in sales compared to the day before.
So, what does this mean for retail marketers around the world
Ignore Black Friday at your own risk
Given the retail success Black Friday has seen in countries that have implemented the shopping day, for those countries that haven’t yet, it’s worth considering. If you’re a retailer, whether or not your brand does Black Friday deals this year, you can surely expect that some of your competitors will be, resulting in increased competitive pressure for market share and visibility around November 27. There is a good chance that companies choosing to ignore Black Friday may find themselves outgunned by more aggressive competitors—don’t let that be you!
Watch select product categories
In countries where Black Friday is still new, not all verticals are always affected. It’s typical for retailers to first test the concept with consumer electronics and household appliances, and only later spread to other product categories. If your country is relatively new to Black Friday, watch the categories that were discounted last year by US retailers, and assume that more retailers will propose Black Friday deals on those categories this year. For this year, some deals are already announced on retailer websites, so a quick search engine search should give you plenty to think about.
Cyber Monday is strongest in the US, but grows internationally
Cyber Monday has yet to see the same adoption and sales growth as Black Friday internationally. But, the shopping day is catching on. Here is a list of a few countries that have invested in Cyber Monday are seeing a significant sales lift as a result:
- The UK: Although Black Friday towers above the holiday season in the UK, many retailers offer attractive discounts on Cyber Monday. Specialty retailers, in particular, show impressive sales peaks on that day. Sporting goods and high tech specialists, for instance actually perform even better on Cyber Monday than they do on Black Friday (respectively 47 and 243 percent above their pre-peak baseline, significantly above Black Friday). Also worth noting, is that last year, many retailers from these verticals were able to successfully reactivate (through retargeting, among other channels) the large audiences built on Cyber Monday. As a result, sales weren’t just high on Cyber Monday, but remained so on the day after, known in the US as “Bounceback Tuesday.”
- Australia: Cyber Monday is actually the main peak of the holiday season, with sales nearly 2.4 times their pre-season level. “Bounceback Tuesday” is the second-highest day.
- Germany: German retailers traditionally reach their peak on the last Sunday before Christmas, so an increasing number of players are using Cyber Monday—or even the whole week starting on Cyber Monday (Cyber Monday Woche)—to encourage early-bird purchases. Last year, in the mass merchant and sporting goods categories showed sales more than 70 percent above their pre-holiday baseline on that day.
- The Netherlands: Although technically, there isn’t a Cyber Monday in the Netherlands, the first Monday of December is the last payday before Sinterklaas (December 5), which is when kids receive their presents—and it’s also the highest sales peak of the holiday season.
So, what does this mean for retail marketers around the world?
Use Cyber Monday as a way to differentiate yourself from your competition
This year, competition will be fierce on Black Friday and on Cyber Monday. If you are in a country and retail category that typically sells a lot on Cyber Monday such as sporting goods, consumer electronics and health and beauty, invest in eCommerce strategies to set yourself apart from competitors that have success with Black Friday. Proposing special offers on Cyber Monday may be a good way to break through the clutter.
Cross-device is even more important on Cyber Monday than on Black Friday
Almost everywhere in the world, mobile shopping and browsing are very high on weekends and much lower on Mondays. In the case of Cyber Monday, it means that a very large share of your potential customers will hunt for bargains on their smartphones and tablets during the weekend, and purchase on their PC on Cyber Monday. If you don’t have a reliable way of tracking weekend mobile shoppers across their different devices, you will miss out on sales.