Another year, another Black Friday – why does it matter to marketers?


27th Nov 2019




It’s that time of year again. No matter where you are in the world, you’ve probably been inundated with ads from America’s biggest shopping day of the year.

Black Friday, taking place annually on the day after American Thanksgiving, is well known for its large-scale sales and promotions. In recent years it has also been popularised in countries outside the USA, due to international ecommerce companies who promote the US-based Black Friday sales events to their worldwide audience.

Accordingly, Black Friday is one of the most important days of the year for many who work in business and marketing roles. But why is it so significant?


A brief history of Black Friday

Since the 19th century, American shoppers have considered the Christmas shopping season to start immediately after Thanksgiving. The name originated in the 1950s, due to the heavy crowds and traffic in Philadelphia on the day after Thanksgiving, with the phrase becoming more widespread towards the end of the 20th century.

In 2005, the term Cyber Monday was coined by the National Retail Federation. Taking place the Monday after Black Friday, this event focused on online sales. In 2009, the National Retail Federation debuted Cyber Black Friday – consumers now expected enormous in-store queues on Black Friday, and by shopping online it was easier to avoid this.

In the last decade or so, it has become common for Black Friday events to start earlier than the Friday – initially on Thursday evening, and now up to a week before the day itself.

With the popularisation of the holiday in countries other than the US, local retailers have also started to run promotions at the same time to remain competitive. As such, Black Friday is becoming an international holiday rather than a US-only one.

Marketing, at its heart, is about getting attention to your products or services. A key aspect of this is standing out from your competitors. In a nutshell, this is why Black Friday matters: because retailers who don’t participate when their competitors do will end up receiving less attention.


Ways to leverage Black Friday

The most important thing to remember with Black Friday is that even though consumers are more likely to be in a shopping mindset, you’re also facing tons more competition than normal. To really make an impact with a Black Friday campaign, you’ll need to stand out.

Rather than sticking up a sign and sending an email offering 20% off everything in your shop, try doing something a bit more unusual. Organise an in-store party with snacks and drinks. Or make use of modern technology – try a flash sale that changes every hour or a virtual mystery coupon with every sale.

You will be fighting against a lot of noise to drive customers to your store or site. This is a good time to invest in paid advertising – whether that’s on Google, Facebook or billboards – but bear in mind that the cost for advertising during this period is likely to be higher than normal.

Forward planning is everything. The further ahead you plan, the better you will be able to integrate your Black Friday plans into your overall marketing plan and avoid conflicts with your other activities.

Bear in mind that your audience’s attention is likely to be highly saturated at this time of year. Rather than introducing a brand-new product or focusing on a complex item, use the months before the event to increase awareness and understanding of your offering, and then focus your marketing efforts on the easier-to-understand and easier-to-sell products.

Finally, remember that it’s not just about the one day. Weeklong promotions are quickly becoming the norm, and if people turn up the day before Black Friday they will probably expect some sort of sale, and are more likely to leave if you don’t have any current promotions.


Other big shopping events for marketers

Of course, Black Friday isn’t the only event of its kind.

Singles Day, a Chinese shopping holiday, is the largest online and offline shopping day in the world. Taking place a few weeks earlier on 11 November every year, this event is a key one to tap into if you have a large audience in Asia.

There are other autumnal and wintery shopping days in other cultures. In India and other Hindu countries, the month before Diwali, which usually takes place in October or November, is believed to be a favourable time to make large purchases. And in many Western countries, the period between Christmas and New Years is one of the largest shopping periods of the year.

As noted, the majority of these shopping events take place towards the end of the year, but more recently Amazon has introduced Prime Day which is held in July. Other retailers frequently jump on the bandwagon, and this can be another key event for your business to tap into if you’re looking for a summer sale excuse.


How to gain more marketing knowledge

Tapping into existing trends in consumer behaviour is just one of the topics you’ll explore on our BA (Hons) Business and Marketing degree. You’ll also delve into marketing research, international marketing strategy, marketing communications and more, alongside other modules in key business skills such as human resource management, global business environment and project management.

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Our courses are delivered 100% online and part-time, so there’s no need to take a career break to study and you can start applying your new knowledge from day one on the course. So by this time next Black Friday, you can have the extra insight you need to make the holiday a success for your company.


Find out more about gaining a degree in marketing by downloading a prospectus. Alternatively, get in touch with our friendly Admissions team who are happy to answer any questions.