Long gone is the annual Thanksgiving tradition of pouring over ads and plotting Black Friday excursions. The rise of online retail, coupled with efforts to beat competitors in store, have forever changed the landscape of holiday shopping. Like countless others, Macy’s now opens on Thanksgiving and will do so an hour earlier this year. Black Friday marketing is changing, but it is still a prime “shopping holiday” in which companies of all types are vying for consumer dollars.
Early Reports for Black Friday 2016
“Black Friday lost lots of luster last season—retailers stayed open from Thanksgiving. Because of online [shopping], there is no need to line up, many shoppers are doing that out of tradition.”
– Neil Stern, international retail consulting firm McMillanDoolittle LLP
Despite this shift, Stern adds that Black Friday 2016 is expected to see a rise in sales. The fact is, estimates for this particular day are difficult since many retailers have yet to announce which day they’ll open. Instead, they’re rolling out promotions now. And these early purchasing opportunities are encouraging 49% of U.S. shoppers to complete their “holiday shopping before the end of their Thanksgiving meal.” While many shoppers make purchases on “Super Saturday” (the last Saturday before Christmas), a recent report suggests some of what we consider traditional Black Friday is still alive and well. It’s just that the metrics have changed.
“A smaller concentration of sales on Black Friday means shoppers will tend to complete their trips earlier — which makes the importance of being a shopper’s first stop greater than ever.” The report cites Wal-Mart’s performance last year as a great example. Shoppers who made the store “their first stop on Black Friday spent nearly twice as much there as those who made it their second stop.”
The focus for retailers now becomes how to get shoppers in their store first this Black Friday.
4 Ways Black Friday Marketing Gets Shoppers In Store
Going into this holiday season we know a whopping 91% of shoppers are expected to visit a brick-and-mortar location. This presents tremendous opportunity for retailers to capture a share of the estimated 3.3% growth. As mentioned, high importance must be given to getting consumers in the store to be successful. And it must happen sooner, rather than later.
Revive the tradition and attract early shoppers with these four ideas for Black Friday marketing.
Host an event.
Perhaps the simplest Black Friday marketing idea, a marketing event can lead shoppers to your store. The first step is to email your customer base and alert your social media followers. Entice them to come with unbeatable sales and special offers. Hire special event staff to act as greeters, hosts or brand ambassadors.
Make their visit more worthwhile when you also serve food and have entertainment. Festive ideas include hot cocoa, peppermint sticks and live Christmas music. You can also appeal to their giving spirit by contributing a portion of sales to charity. After all, it is the “giving season,” when people are most inclined to make donations.[Tweet “91% of shoppers will visit stores this holiday season per @ICSC. How will you get them in yours?”]
Create an experience.
Shopping malls have long understood the power of event marketing in bringing in traffic for tenants. And they now realize the immense value of experiential marketing for building relationships. That’s why they’re “targeting families” and launching efforts “to make spending time at malls more attractive.”
For example, REIT Macerich will roll out “social media giveaways, live DJs and Santa-themed get-togethers such as ‘Pet Night with Santa’ and ’Milk and Donuts with Santa’” in certain markets. And twelve U.S. malls will host DreamPlace, a fun, interactive pop-up from Dreamworks. All of these experiences have great potential for attracting shoppers. They also illustrate that it would be wise for individual retailers to consider their own in-store efforts to secure sales.
Letting consumers get hands-on with hot products is one easy way to create an experience. Or bring in professional event staff, who dress as employees or even in character (think Santa’s helpers), to lead contests. The sky is the limit, as long as your budget supports it. For example, larger companies with higher Black Friday marketing budgets can use 3D printing for personalized products and to create unique gifts. More importantly, it imprints the brand into the hearts and minds of consumers for a lasting bond.
Jack Kleinhenz, the National Retail Federation’s Chief Economist, claims, “Connecting mobile shopping with physical stores is the big retail challenge.” When you consider 52% of people will shop online on Black Friday, you can understand why.
One solution is the use of ‘click-and-collect’, which allows purchases to be reserved or made online but picked up in store. Retailers can use geotargeting to entice consumers that are in close proximity with free gifts or greater discounts. The goal is to get shoppers in the door in hopes they make more purchases. And the chance is greater when experiential marketing or other in-person campaigns create a personal connection.
Efforts should also incorporate social media whenever possible. For example, require shoppers to post selfies using a particular hashtag in order to qualify for a discount. That one image will reach their friends and followers, resulting in an increased return on engagement or ROE (The average number of Facebook friends across all users is 338. This provides tremendous opportunity for exponential positive exposure).[Tweet “Professional event staff create the experience shoppers need to buy from you this Black Friday.”]
Speaking of social media, 56% of users are “afraid of missing something such as an event, news, or an important status update if they don’t keep tabs” on their networks. Putting your Black Friday event or promotion in their feed by way of their friends is an effective way to initiate FOMO.
Setting time limitations on sales is another great way to create FOMO. Wal-Mart’s “1-hour guarantee” is a great example. “Shoppers who lined up an hour before stores opened were guaranteed to get select doorbuster merchandise on sale – even if that store ran out of its stock.” This initiative got people there to secure the deals. It also ensured Wal-Mart was their first stop.
Since 1999, EPS has fulfilled the event staffing needs of malls, retailers and more to help realize their event and experiential marketing visions. Contact us to discuss how we can help turn your Black Friday vision into an engaging tradition for your consumers.