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The Death of Black Friday: Amazon Prime Day & Holiday 2020

 

For the past few years, retailers and brands have kept a close watch on the sales holiday of the summer: Amazon Prime Day. The impact of Amazon’s trademark discount day is big enough to cascade across any ecommerce business. The trick has always been timing – but if you can get it right, it can really work.

During Prime Day last year, which took place on July 15 and July 16, Amazon sold more than 175 million items. The ecommerce giant claimed that Prime Day 2019 sales were higher than sales during Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 combined. In Criteo’s analysis, we found that US businesses that ran discounts during Prime Day saw an average of 40% higher sales than average in 2018. Our US clients who ran deals during Amazon Prime Day in 2019 saw an average of 59% more sales compared to average between June 1 and June 28.

We recommend the strategy to pretty much any advertiser. If Amazon runs a sale, you can be part of the rush. Many consumers are loyal to deals, not necessarily to Amazon.

But with no Prime Day 2020 this summer, there are rumors that Amazon is planning Prime Day sales for early October, with October 5 as the potential date. With deals available sooner, a lot of consumers won’t wait for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In fact, in our recent holiday season consumer survey, conducted in August, we found that:

  • 44% of US shoppers who are familiar with Amazon Prime Day are aware of the new date this year.1
  • Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Amazon Prime Members in the US plan to spend some of the money they usually spend on Black Friday on Amazon Prime Day instead.2
  • Almost two-thirds (63%) of Amazon Prime Members said that they are going to wait until Prime Day to buy gifts.2

By the time Black Friday and Cyber Monday come around, a lot of shoppers may have already made their big gifting purchases. So that means marketers should focus on how to start promoting deals now and make sure they are already in the market with their ad campaigns by the time Prime Day hits.

Go Early or Go Home

Over the years at Criteo, we’ve seen a decided shift to earlier and earlier holiday promotions. Previously, other big box retailers like Walmart and Target started to advertise deals for the holiday season in October. This new Amazon Prime Day could be the most definitive change in consumer behavior in recent memory. In fact, given the sheer scale of Prime Day, it’s likely that this becomes a third pillar of any holiday strategy this year.

As we discussed in our Black Friday guide, Criteo data shows that buyers who shop for the first time from an ecommerce site during Black Friday weekend make their first online visit, regardless of the browsing environment, an average of 41 days prior.3 If your ads aren’t in the market before October, you might lose the advantage. Especially if Prime Day happens next month.

Download our free guide here to see more data on why it’s critical to reach holiday customers long before Black Friday.

Before Thanksgiving, December seems like it’s a long way off. Black Friday has long since served as a helpful marker to start buying things for family and friends. But deals are deals. And with Prime Day serving as a potential new milestone for holiday shopping, we could see shopping behavior start to flatten across Q4 as the importance of these big days diminishes. So if you aren’t running ads by October, you might actually lose potential sales from consumers who have already done their holiday shopping by the time November rolls around.

The Global Picture

Black Friday has become a global holiday. In fact, by using the interactive Criteo Seasonal Sales Dashboard, we can see that for ecommerce companies during Black Friday weekend 2019:

  • Sales in Germany rose by 214%
  • Sales in France rose by 334%
  • Sales in the US rose by 334%
  • Sales in the UK rose by 348%
  • Sales in Spain rose by 444%
  • Sales in Brazil rose by 732%

It’s unlikely Amazon will kill Black Friday, but Prime Day will take a bite out of all those potential sales. So advertisers should focus on what to promote during Prime Day itself, in October, and prepare another campaign for Black Friday weekend.

Peaks and Valleys

A look at our Seasonal Sales Dashboard shows a significant sales spike during the Black Friday weekend last year. If Amazon does launch Prime Day deals in early October, we could see far different activity. Rather than one massive sales weekend, marketers will have to segment by audiences and personas to make sure they are targeting the right people at the right time – literally, in this case.

This has been an unprecedented year, but people will still want to give their loved ones gifts to celebrate this special time. With so much changing on a weekly basis, we might see a total fragmentation of the holiday shopping market as some countries reopen completely and others go into new lockdowns based on the coronavirus.

One thing is certain: Whatever happens, the holiday spirit will remain. It’s up to marketers to build the best experiences for their audiences, whenever, however, and wherever they end up buying their gifts.

To learn more, download our latest guide:

1Source: Holiday Season Survey, US, August 2020 n=1,547

2Source: Holiday Season Survey, US, August 2020 n=900 (Amazon Prime Members)

3Source: Criteo Data, Apparel, United States, Q4 2019, all devices combined.

Blaise has helped Fortune 500s and start-ups build comprehensive content marketing strategies from the ground up. He loves figuring out how technology can tell better stories and foster relationships.