Picture this…

 It’s Black Friday. You’ve hit the heaving high street and the shops are filled with sale-crazed customers tackling each other for the hottest deals. Over there, two people are locked in a bitter tug of war over a flat screen TV; someone else is staggering out with ten pairs of shoes in almost the right size. Because Black Friday is, after all, the single day of the year when prices are low and feverish demand is guaranteed.

Or at least, it was. But in recent years, Black Friday has undergone a significant transformation – spanning weeks, stretching the original definition of retail and taking place mainly online. Make no mistake, it remains a hugely pivotal time for retailers, but is it time to reevaluate what Black Friday really means?


Shoppers, too, have evolved in response to this extended Black Friday period

Rather than waiting for the day itself, they plan their purchases in advance, leveraging price promises and pre-Black Friday deals.

Over the years, retailers have always adapted to customer preferences, and Black Friday is no exception. The majority of Black Friday promotions have now transitioned into the online space. Retailers want to embrace the true essence of Black Friday, which, for customers, is essentially to nail down cost-effective Christmas shopping ahead of time.

Leading up to the event, Argos, for example, launched their Black Friday Price Promise. Any items purchased under the Price Promise deal between November 1st to 28th will maintain their price stability until January 1st 2024 – ensuring customers can trust and enjoy the benefits of discounted products throughout the festive season, without the time constraints and pressure associated with Black Fridays of old. And there’s more – Argos customers can also benefit from their participation in the Nectar programme, with Argos offering five times the original value of Nectar points on a variety of products. This not only adds more value to the customer shopping experience but also means they get to score great deals while earning extra points on their loyalty cards.

Retailers also understand that it’s about boosting customer satisfaction by offering a relaxed and cost-effective shopping experience, spreading out both the cost and impact of the initial Black Friday rush. There’s enough stress in the world without forcing customers to race each other for good deals.

And, it’s not just retailers jumping into the mix; brands are also actively participating. From a supplier standpoint, at Nectar360, in recent years we have seen a substantial increase in promotional and media investment. Brand owners are being savvy, it is not just about the absolute price, but to cut through they understand the need to collaborate with retailers to boost awareness of their available offers. We’ve witnessed a notable increase in investment across retail media channels and across the full marketing funnel, helping brands nudge shoppers along the path to purchase. In particular we have seen a surge in the demand for targeted digital and social channels, a continued growth for on-site advertising and a real boom in biddable, sponsored product placement. Brand owners are upping their competitiveness and partnering with retailers to ensure that not only are their offers the best out there, but that they’re also, importantly, making some noise about it.

Black Friday’s influence has now transcended its original boundaries

 The event’s fundamental adaptability, combined with the rise of online shopping and digital marketing, has boosted its integration into various markets, ushering in a universal appeal. From what was once a primarily retail-dominated event, it’s now reached beyond technology, to travel and even insurance and broadband services. The reason it’s been adopted so widely is because it really does work. The success of Black Friday over the years is a testament to its potential to leverage consumer enthusiasm to ramp up sales in a specific time period.

In retail, of course, Black Friday remains a lightning rod at the heart of the key quarter of the commercial year. It is also the perfect opportunity for consumers to get ready for the Christmas season by finding great deals on items they want in a time where they may need extra financial support. This is a time for retailers to give back, allowing shoppers the opportunity to indulge in more affordable prices and alleviate some financial strain during the festive season, especially amid a cost-of-living crisis.

But certainly, the concept of Black Friday has stretched almost out of all recognition, which begs several questions. What can we expect in the future from this shape-shifting calendar staple? How much further can retailers take their value delivery strategies? And, most importantly, has Black Friday surpassed its initial purpose of just providing value, and, in turn, become a time where retailers offer shoppers the chance to kick start their Christmas shopping early to allow them more time to settle back and concentrate on the important priorities, making Christmas an inspirational, special time – after all it is the season for sharing and goodwill to all.

And is it just a little bit sad that there’s no more footage on the news of frenzied shoppers tussling over a discounted foot spa? No? No, you’re probably right. Let’s be thankful Black Friday has changed, and continues to do so.


Graeme Mckenzie

Client Director Argos Insights & GM Media

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