Now the dust has settled on this year’s Black Friday, it’s hard to believe that it was only six years ago that the event was first introduced to the UK by Amazon. Since then, the popularity of the US-imported sales event has skyrocketed to become a key date in the UK retail calendar, with more jumping onto the bandwagon every year.
But despite all the hype, isn’t the novelty beginning to wear off? According to national consumer panel, work.shop.play, 73% of Brits say that they wouldn’t care if sales events like this didn’t exist. I must say, I agree.
Let’s face it; Black Friday is not enjoyable. Even if customers avoid the war zone that is the shop floor, they are still faced with a bombardment of indiscriminate deals at every turn. Whether it’s through online ads, emails, or TV commercials, marketers seem fixated on encouraging consumers to make haphazard purchases on this one arbitrary day of the year.
The truth is, Black Friday is stressful and does nothing to drive customer loyalty. The 24-hour event makes it difficult for retailers to build meaningful relationships with customers that result in repeat purchases or ongoing engagement. Furthermore, the concept of a flash sale is no longer an enticing proposition. Customers are growing increasingly tired of permanent sales and are becoming completely desensitised to the barrage of messages promoting them.
In reality, customers would prefer brands to provide customer experiences that consistently deliver real value, not just meaningless discounts. Customers care less about the price of items than retailers are led to believe. According to work.shop.play, 46% say that if there wasn’t a Black Friday sales event, they would still be prepared to pay full price for the items they’re interested in buying anyway. Retailers, take note.
Instead of joining the Black Friday rat race, retailers should focus more on building long term relationships with customers and delivering deals throughout the year that are relevant to the individual. Brands that take the time to discover who their customers are and what they really want are generating extraordinary results both in terms of profit per head contribution and lifetime value.
Retailers looking to build enduring relationships with consumers shouldn’t rely on ‘one off flings’, but should instead focus on giving customers the attention they need all year round, not just for Christmas. In my opinion, Black Friday is not only a flawed retail concept; it’s also incredibly lazy marketing. Isn’t it time we came up with something a little more sophisticated.
Mark Roy is chairman of The REaD Group