Let's make Black Friday great again
Does anyone actually like Black Friday? Anyone?
Are individuals becoming lost in the marketing machine?
Let’s start with the retailers and brands that participate year after year.
Well, not so much. The commercial case for their participation is now questionable at best. Black Friday encourages consumers to dive into their wallet earlier in the festive period but unfortunately, not necessarily any deeper. It’s a desperate race to the bottom, with the only winners being the big online retailers leveraging economies of scale.
The unrelenting pace of our discount culture means retailers find themselves continually cutting prices in a bid to stay in the game, let alone ahead. Hardly an effective strategy to foster long term meaningful relationships with a loyal base.
What’s more, with Cyber Monday hot on Black Friday’s heels the event doesn’t feel particularly exclusive, more like another excuse inviting people to part with their money, another manufactured ‘holiday’ to flog stock and people are increasingly savvy to this.
Most retailers can’t afford to miss out on the share of wallet up for grabs. So, if we must continue, let’s at least get back to making it feel a little bit special for both people and brands. The best way to do this is to unlock the power of data.
Where to start?
Brands are desperate for customer data. Without it, they are marketing blind. Unsurprisingly though, people are increasingly unwilling to part with it. RAPP’s own research into data sharing revealed that 40% of consumers feel skeptical about sharing their personal data with only 20% seeing it as a way to get more value from companies. Brands are failing this basic value exchange. By fixing it, we can potentially make Black Friday both more relevant, appealing and effective.
So how can we make sure people see the value in parting with their data?
Understanding what ‘value’ really means to them is a good start. At Rapp, we believe the concept of value has evolved significantly to encompass much more than just price. We’ve identified three priority levers to drive consumer value perceptions: Choice, Control and Community. Each can play an important part in the revitalisation of Black Friday.
Choice: 'don't hide anything'
In 2016, ‘Which?’ accused a number of retailers of inflating the ‘was’ price to make Black Friday promotions look more appealing. Customer testimonials reflect the general consensus that brands aren’t with us, they’re against us.
The antidote is using ‘Choice’ as a lever for the data value exchange. By Choice, we mean the enablement of discovery through transparency. It’s not about overwhelming people with information, but making it available if desired.
People are taking time to properly scrutinise the deals, so if you’re only discounting last year’s models, admit it. Just convince them they’re still worth it. Equally, prove Black Friday is the best time to buy, by providing easy and accessible price tracker tools. It’s more difficult to be sceptical of cold, hard facts.
Control: 'operate on my terms'
There is little customer strategy with Black Friday. Brands reward deal-hungry, highly promiscuous shoppers over loyal, long-standing ones. With little understanding of customer needs or behaviour, the resulting advertising becomes generalist with personalisation taking a back seat to the best bargain.
Embracing ‘Control’ as a value lever means recognising individual needs and providing a tailor made experience. At the very least, brands should be offering personalised offers based on previous behaviour. Gestures such as – ‘We’ve seen that coat sitting in your basket for the past three weeks, so here’s 30% off’ or ‘Thank you for choosing that new Nikon camera last month, now here’s some deals on accessories, especially chosen for you’. Even better, let consumers take control and pick exactly what they want discounted.
Community: 'make me part of something'
Everyone likes to feel special. They like to feel included, safe in the knowledge that they’re ‘in the know’. Using the ‘Community’ value lever does just this, positioning brands as the facilitators of experiences.
In the context of Black Friday, this could be about creating exclusive communities elevated above other mundane, catch-all offers. Amazon’s ‘Prime Day’ rewards loyal customers by giving them their own exclusive day of sales. Brands should take inspiration from this model, offering those who hand over their data the opportunity to get a preview and access to the deals before everyone else.
To Black Friday, and beyond
While Black Friday may always be at its core about price, taking Choice, Control and Community into consideration might just nudge a customer towards your brand over another, on not only Black Friday but beyond. This preference might mean an increased likelihood to share their precious data, all the more important with GDPR looming.
Our duty is to not let individuals get lost in the marketing machine. The irony is that Black Friday as it stands is the marketing machine personified. It’s time to come to the rescue of your loyal customers and put them firmly at the centre of the event. Make them feel recognised, valued and better still special, then just maybe, more people might start enjoying the original premise of Black Friday once more.
Chris Freeland is chief executive officer of Rapp UK
Content by The Drum Network member:
RAPP is a global, data-driven creative community that builds direct, meaningful and high-value relationships between brands and people. At RAPP, with our unrivalled depth of expertise in first-party data, we’ve been observing and cataloguing real people’s lives for 50 years. In today’s world the balance of power has shifted, and customers are in control, which is why we put people and their preferences at the heart of the brand experience. With a talent base of more than 1,600 professionals in 18 offices, we help brands grow the value of real people by understanding what really matters and creating experiences that are right for real people, with real needs, in real time, creating marketing that matters. Our expertise in data and marketing sciences allows us to deliver our clients actionable human insight - an incredible understanding of genuine motivations, observed transactions and actual interactions. Our process reflects how real people think; we balance the left brain and the right, and we do our best work when we bring Precision and Empathy into balance. Building on our data foundation, RAPP delivers a range of capability across social, digital, customer experience and technology.
RAPP is proud to employ talented people across the US, the UK, Argentina, France, Germany, China, Singapore, Australia, Mexico, Bangkok and Dubai, and we actively foster an inclusive workplace where diversity and individual differences are valued and leveraged to achieve our vision.
RAPP is part of Omnicom Precision Marketing Group, a division of the DAS Group of Companies.