Standing out from the (chaotic) crowd on Black Friday

by Priyanka Loomba

23rd November 2018

It’s officially the start of the festive season, as Black Friday is now upon us. Arguably, it is one of the biggest days of the year for both retailers and consumers, with a reputation of frantic grabs and last-minute bargains. Though this is a great opportunity for consumers to snag a deal, Black Friday also comes with expectations and opportunities for brands, whereby it can damage their reputation or give them a vast amount of profitability. It’s always interesting to see what brands will come up with year after year, as they attempt to stand out and pique consumer interest during this chaotic period. This is especially true now that Black Friday is no longer a single day, with many brands having promotional activity spanning weeks.

Nevertheless, the retail event has suffered continued criticism. A Which? survey on Tuesday found that 9 out of 10 deals in last year’s sale were actually cheaper or the same price at other times of the year. But even despite this, Brit’s still love a perceived bargain. Researchers from Deloitte have predicted that Britain will top the European spending league on Black Friday and in the run-up to Christmas with an average spend of £567, with £240 of that spent online. Two-fifths of shoppers (40 per cent) have even delayed buying items to make use of the discounts offered during Black Friday sales.

But regardless of the finer details, what really gets us excited are the offers! Here are some of the brand activations causing a buzz in the Eulogy office.

Amazon’s Black Friday Pop-Up returns

Amazon’s Black Friday pop-up has returned to London, this time housed in Shoreditch for four days. The brands taking part include Samsung, HP, Lego, Microsoft, and Canon. The ‘Home of Black Friday’ gives consumers an upfront showcase of deals that they can purchase in Amazon’s 10-day Black Friday sale. This first-hand, interactive consumer experience is innovative and clever as it promulgates the company’s deals, live in person.

Though this brand activation is successful, coverage-worthy and plainly just pretty cool, it comes at a time when Amazon workers at five UK warehouses, including Milton Keynes, Warrington and Swansea, are expected to stage protests against the retailer for the inhumane conditions in which they work. These warehouse protests will coincide with Amazon’s hugely publicised Black Friday sales. It is interesting to see this dynamic within Amazon, where on one hand the brand pulls off a successful Black Friday activation, but at the same time faces internal protests that tar its reputation on the big day itself.

Currys PC World ‘Why Wait’ sale

A great idea from Currys PC World, which launched a ‘Why Wait’ sale two weeks before Black Friday. It comes with the added bonus of a Black Friday price guarantee. If customers bought something in the ‘Why Wait’ sale, but the price subsequently changed on Black Friday, they’d will be refunded the difference. This novel initiative allays consumer fears that they could purchase something in advance which will become even cheaper nearer Black Friday, eliminating the risk. What an incentive!

Asda’s alternate ‘Green is the New Black’ sale

Not all brand activations for Black Friday are pro-Black Friday. However, brands not taking part can still jump on the bandwagon and use it to drive their own sales. Asda is one such brand that has undertaken this strategy with its ‘Green is the New Black’ sale. Though initially claiming responsibility for bringing Black Friday to the UK, Asda pulled out of it in 2015. At the time, chief executive Andy Clarke claimed that “customers have told us loud and clear that they don’t want to be held hostage to a day or two of sales.” This year, it has used Black Friday as a hook to create an alternative sale. A catchy title, a rival sale, and spanning multiple days than just one—this activation by Asda is definitely worth a mention!

Despite continued criticism, with brands such as Primark, M&S and B&Q choosing not to take part, Black Friday remains one of the busiest days for retailers and consumers. It will be fascinating to see the aftermath of 2018’s event, and its repercussions for the retail market—especially considering the decline of high street shops and the growth of online shopping. It’s clear to see, brands are still coming up with innovative ideas to stand out from the crowd.