Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2020: What Marketers Need to Know

We analyzed our data across consumer surveys, retail transactions from 2019 & more to build a guide about what marketers can expect for a Black Friday like no other.
Updated on October 19, 2020

This has been an exceptional year for many reasons. As countries still try to understand how to open businesses safely, retailers and brands have to adapt holiday marketing strategies to the latest consumer trends. Yes, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will still happen – but what will they look like?

At Criteo, we took a look at our data across consumer surveys, retail transactions from last year, and more to build a guide that examines what marketers can expect for a Black Friday season like no other.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday trends 2020

Looking Back to Black Friday 2019

We built the interactive Criteo Seasonal Sales Dashboard, based on 2 billion transactions and 5,000 retailers from 35 countries, to understand the holiday trends from last year.

On Black Friday 2019, which happened on November 29—a full week later than it did the year prior—online retail sales in the US spiked by 334% when compared to the first four weeks of October. Cyber Monday saw a 330% increase in sales.2

Our analysis uncovered the top sales spikes on Black Friday:

Black Friday product trends

Overall, conversion rates in the US were up 54% on Black Friday in 2019. That means consumers are ready to buy when discounts are highest. Even if this year is completely different, there will still be an expectation that Black Friday will have the biggest deals of the season.

Our new, interactive Holiday Product Finder has even more insights.

Black Friday Season 2020: Earlier & Longer

With Amazon Prime Day now rumored to be happening in October, look for other retailers and brands to go all-in with promotions at the same moment—and to benefit from the halo effect.

Criteo analysis shows that our US clients who ran deals during Amazon Prime Day in 2019 saw an average of 59% more sales compared to the average between June 1 and June 28. Many retailers only participated in discounting for one day, and our data showed that only around 40% of retailers participate at all—leaving a potentially huge opportunity on the table.3

An autumn Amazon Prime Day could kick off what we typically think of as big deals season,” putting Black Friday deal hunters in the mood to shop earlier than ever. This could also have a lasting impact on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, especially if consumers get what they need earlier in the season.

At this point, we already know that holiday buyers are planning to spend as soon as the deals start dropping. Criteo data shows that in 2019, retail traffic was already up 46% a full 10 days prior to Black Friday.4

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

Black Friday Crowds No More

Walmart, Best Buy, and Target have announced that their stores will be closed on Thanksgiving, breaking a tradition of early-bird markdowns that often attracted huge crowds. For health and safety reasons alone, we expect other retailers to follow suit.

All signs indicate that 2020 might be the year when doorbuster deals and mad rushes for hot-ticket items finally come to an end, replaced by online discounts that start sooner and span a longer period of time.

So what exactly does a holiday shopper’s journey look like?

At Criteo, we analyzed our data from 20,000 retailers globally to find the answer. Here are three top Black Friday 2020 trends and takeaways for marketers.

1. The Customer Journey

Staying top of mind between a shopper’s first touchpoint and purchase is an ongoing challenge for businesses. But with all the information and choices out there, the consideration phase will have outsized importance in the holiday shopper journey of 2020.

Criteo data shows that buyers who shop for the first time from a retailer during Black Friday weekend make their first online visit, regardless of the browsing environment, 41 days prior on average.5 That’s almost six weeks for a holiday shopper to search, evaluate, and investigate a Black Friday purchase.

That means that creating touchpoints early in the holiday season is critical, even if they don’t seem to pay off right away. Many consumers believe that Amazon Prime Day is going to happen in October, so they are likely already browsing for products they want.

Now is the right time to launch consideration campaigns that bring traffic to your site and app. Otherwise, you run the risk of being forgotten or overshadowed by your competitors when holiday promotions begin.

2. The Black Friday Bounce

Today’s at-home lifestyles mean grown-ups are buying stuff in the backyard on their smartphones, kids are adding to shopping carts on tablets, and everyone is scrolling handheld devices in front of Netflix on a regular basis.

When it comes to Black Friday, Criteo data shows that many holiday shoppers bounce across different devices prior to completing a purchase:

Black Friday cross device trends

A non-linear path to purchase is the norm for many Black Friday shoppers, so cross-device tracking is a must-have to deliver seamless, customer-centric journeys. For example, persistent shopping carts across your mobile site, app, and desktop presence let holiday shoppers easily pick up where they left off on the channel they prefer.

3. Black Friday in the New Normal

During the unpredictable surge in consumer demand earlier this year, items ran out of stock while long waits for delivery added to frustrations.

Over the past few months, BOPIS (buy online and pickup in store) has emerged as a huge differentiator. Research from Signifyd shows that BOPIS orders more than doubled globally in June.9

Criteo data shows that the relationship between mobile and stores is close-knit:

black friday omnichannel trends

This holiday season, stores may be closed, fully open, or somewhere in between, and consumer comfort levels will vary. Build trust and confidence by communicating how you’re making your stores a safe and positive experience and localize your campaigns where stores are open. Alternatively, focus on ecommerce where stores are closed.

The Rebound Economy is Ready for Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2020

This year saw an unprecedented acceleration in ecommerce growth, the rise of safer store shopping options, and increased comfort levels with online-meets-offline purchasing (BOPIS, curbside pickup). Taken together, holiday season 2020 has the potential to be a key period for businesses to resonate with more audiences in more ways for far longer than usual.

More than ever, 2020 holiday shoppers will be on the lookout for offers that inspire and bring value to them and their loved ones during the season when it matters most.

For more holiday insights, register for our virtual holiday planning series, and download our Black Friday 2020 mini-guide:

black friday trends 2020 guide

1Criteo “Peak to Recovery” Survey. Criteo surveyed 16,244 respondents having experienced partial or complete lockdown at any point within the past few months across 15 countries between May 13 and June 16, 2020 (1,366 in the US). Respondents were asked to evaluate how forced social distancing had affected their daily habits and how they envisaged returning to normal. The sample is representative of the populations of the respective countries by age and gender (ethnicity in the US). United States sample size: N=1,365.
2Criteo Seasonal Sales Dashboard, Global. Indexed traffic and sales data is compared to the average in the first four weeks of October (1-28) 2019, excluding applications.
3Criteo “Silver Quarter Report,” United States, 2020.
4Criteo Data, All Retail, United States, compared to average in October 2019.
5Criteo Data, Apparel, United States, Q4 2019, all devices combined.
6Criteo Data, United States, July 2020.
7Criteo Data, All Retail, United States, Q4 2019.
8All Retail, United States, Q4 2019, Web, Mobile Web, and App combined.
10Criteo Data, All Retail, United States, Black Friday weekend transactions 2019.

Michelle Pruett

As Global Head of Content at Criteo, Michelle leads a high-performing, multi-disciplinary team of marketers packaging insights, copy, design, and video into integrated campaigns. Her own writing has been featured in Entrepreneur, Business Insider, AdWeek, eMarketer, and more. Before joining the ...

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