Guide B2B Marketing Brand Strategy

Black Friday has peaked. Here’s what you should focus on instead

By Sarah Flannery | Head of Client Development



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October 3, 2022 | 7 min read

Following findings from their recent report, growth agency Assembly questions whether Black Friday has in-fact peaked, and guides brands toward a profitable peak sales season.

Poster reads: 'you don't need it but you want it'

With inflation putting a dampener on the usually anticipated Black Friday, how can brands still thrive this sales season? / Jon Tyson via Unsplash

With brands and agencies running the gauntlets of the post-pandemic advertising landscape – including first party data, intense acceleration of e-commerce, and the hyper-connected gen Z – it’s safe to say that there is no such thing as ‘normal’. This rings particularly true for the peak sales period this year.

Peak season was already headed for change. From a steep climb to a marathon, Cyber Monday has gradually become Cyber Month. This stretching of the retail calendar has been further impacted by always-on challengers like marketplaces and resellers vying for customer attention, plus a market increasingly disrupted by appified retail creating highly bespoke and opted-in customer experiences.

Once a static calendar of events, warming up with ‘back to school’ and gradually leading into a crescendo of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as well as major brand moments and campaign activity into the new year – this peak sales season stands a test with the FIFA World Cup taking place during the same period.

With the cost of living crisis and resulting variations in consumer behavior and sentiment in different markets, this calls for clever and meticulous (but most of all, agile) media planning across all channels.

What to expect

With cost of living a concern across Europe, consumers are expected to start their Christmas shopping earlier, with 40% most price conscious about shoes and clothing. We can also expect global ad spend to increase into Q4, with inflation in Europe set to be the highest since the pandemic.

FIFA World Cup

The timing of the World Cup presents an immediate challenge for media planners. With resulting fluctuations in media costs over the period, meticulous planning is essential, right down to specific match times.

While a large proportion of the population united in pub gardens in the previous football seasons, early research by the IPA indicated that 38% of the UK believe the tournament will be an inconvenience over the peak period.

Of those who do tune in, 32% will be checking social media and 20% playing online games, reflecting the multiscreen nature of today’s audience. Driving engagement will require highly tailored campaigns that consider messaging and placement down to micro-buying moments. Brands wishing to leverage the World Cup should be smart about dynamic messaging that aligns with products and the event.

Cost of living

Although more than half the UK population think this will be a stressful Christmas, there are variances in what precisely that means across different demographics and as the first financial crisis impacts gen Z.

32% of gen Z say they aren’t prepared to give up socializing amid the cost of living crisis. This could result in interesting family dynamics around festive spending overall, particularly as the parents of gen Z may still be partially or wholly funding large ticket items such as accommodation or education, and have clear and not-so-fond memories of the last financial crisis.

It's no surprise that buy-now-pay-later is expected to rise globally by 78% in 2022. This focuses the lens on value as purchases will be more considered, meaning brands should seek to optimize extra-value opportunities.

How to prepare

  • First and foremost, review your peak season strategy now. Speak to your team to determine what approach needs to be considered.

  • Consumer trends are showing variances per market. Consider regional nuances across the period by honing segmentation in line with insights.

  • Now is the time to innovate. Use this as an opportunity to be experimental (and experiential) in an approach to counter media inflation. Banking on last year’s approach in 2022 will be the biggest risk.

  • Performance media needs to be brand media and brand media can be performance, so planning an integrated and connected approach is essential.

  • Use a multi-screen approach to targeting and connecting at key moments.

  • Think about how you can authentically tap into the buzz around the World Cup through products or partnerships, while targeting those micro moments and messaging.

For more insights, read the full report.

Guide B2B Marketing Brand Strategy

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