Black Friday sales are rolling out as the holiday season draws near, but the dollar signs that once followed are no longer a given. In our survey of 400 US marketers (in consumer brands with 100+ employees), more than two-fifths (41 percent) “strongly agree” that this holiday season will make or break their business. Despite the importance of November-December shopping, only 21 percent of brands say they feel completely prepared for the year’s most significant sales period.
If this makes you think that spending will decline in 2021, think again. According to a report by the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend an average of $997.73 on gifts, holiday items and other non-gift purchases this year – roughly the same as last year. However, while pre-pandemic sales were heavily associated with the Black Friday bonanza, consumers are now more discerning in their purchases. Instead of a weekend of big deals, they want brands to deliver an outstanding experience alongside their products.
The Overall Experience Matters Most
Digitally-native e-commerce brands may have an advantage this year. Our survey shows that more than half of marketers (65 percent) feel that these are the brands that will win the holiday season. But these aren’t the only brands trying to gain a tech-driven edge – almost all (91 percent) say they are likely to enhance their virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) offerings in 2021. By adopting these and other essential technologies for digital environments, brands are changing how they approach consumers.
In fact, more than half (60 percent) of brands that operate physical stores say they intend to transform them into experiential destinations for the holidays. This is yet another important step in the ongoing evolution of retailers, which is about so much more than each transaction – it is now about the overall experience provided to each customer.
Black Friday is no Longer the Be-All and End-All Sales Event
There was a time when Black Friday was the sales period, but in a world following COVID-19, it’s clear that many marketers are rethinking their strategies. Four-fifths (80%) say that, in addition to becoming outdated, Black Friday is negatively associated with consumer culture. And even more (85 percent) are resetting their old sales practices.
All told, just 60 percent of brands are still planning a Black Friday promotion this year (down 17 percent from 2020), and 78 percent say that Cyber Monday is no longer “a thing” for their business.
With a Great Experience, Brands will be Remembered well into 2022
Instead of big promos tied to single-day or single-weekend shopping, brands would reap greater rewards by deploying a strategy with the shopper experience in mind. While shopping for gifts, consumers will also be looking for brands interested in connecting on a deeper level. Those that do will be remembered well into 2022.
The author, Paige O’Neill, is the Chief Marketing Officer of Sitecore