Black Friday.

Robin HamiltonCreative Director

Christmas…bah humbug

Phew, well the last 10 days or so has been fascinating in terms of digital marketing. Until a few years ago the second half of November would have been all about Christmas, but now we have a new marketing event in the UK – Black Friday…and Cyber Monday.

The initial figures show Friday was an enormous ecommerce day in the UK, probably the most sales in any one day since ecommerce started. But it’s an interesting question on whether Black Friday generates more revenues – and profits – overall in the Christmas sales period. Consumers are saving purchases now until Black Friday, and now ‘Friday’ is a week for most stores consumers get a lot of their shopping done for Christmas during this period, buying their presents at a greatly discounted price.

This means consumers are being trained by retailers to buy at discount prices, and it’s becoming increasingly hard to get their prices back up as they chase more sales going into Christmas. By putting more sales through digital channels margins should increase, but with such continual discounting this has to hurt as the retailers get into a continual ‘pull forward’ war on share and cut deeper and deeper.

There’s nothing wrong with that strategy – if that’s what it is – but I hope retailers are clear on their pricing and profit strategies.

Separately, I worry about the misuse of digital channels through this heavy sales period. Personally I received almost 200 emails from etailers in just over a week with subject lines containing Black Friday and discount messages, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. In some cases I received 2-3 emails from the same brand on the same day smacking of desperation and lack of a co-ordinated strategy. I fear the plan is just to get as many emails out as possible as brands back a pure volume plan, but the problem is the wear out and diminishing returns their emails must receive as consumers just reach for delete.

It will be interesting to see how brands communicate in the weeks leading up to Christmas…my inbox is already filling up with Cyber Monday emails…


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