In previous conversations with multi-channel retailers, we looked at emerging trends ahead of Black Friday, as well as the steps brands are taking to remain agile this season. And now – as we approach what is for many the biggest retail event of the year, coinciding with another lockdown – it’s interesting to see if their plans have changed.

Here’s a quick update from our latest discussion on how retailers are preparing for an unprecedented Black Friday.

 Strategic shift from blanket to structured discounts

Blanket discounts have become a standard strategy for many brands entering into the Black Friday spirit in recent years. However, this year, only those who are confident about their stock levels have confirmed they will be offering a discount across their entire product range. For others, whose sales have remained steady throughout the up and downs of 2020 – or who are perhaps uncertain about future stock – discounts will be fewer and farther between, with more strategic decisions being made.

For retailers who sell non-gift items, running Black Friday deals will be important to maintain sales levels, as these brands tend to fare much better over this weekend than they do over the festive period.

Preparing creative for all outcomes

For most brands, remaining flexible down to the last minute will be key this Black Friday. In fact, some of the retailers we spoke to have already prepared multiple marketing messages in advance, for instance ad copy for all social media channels, as well as creative for various retargeting ads and Google ads. This advance preparation gives retailers the agility to go with the most relevant messaging at the time – including experimenting with new channels – depending on fluctuating economic conditions or levels of stock.

One retailer is considering bringing their Black Friday sale forward to make it more manageable from a fulfilment perspective, while selling through as much stock as possible online that was initially earmarked for sale in physical stores.

Sustainability comes to the fore

For a couple of retailers, especially within the fashion industry, there is an increasing focus on ethical sourcing and sustainability. Therefore, in a bid to distance themselves from the ‘fast consumerism’ associations that Black Friday can sometimes bring, discounts are being carefully structured to focus on slower-selling items to help boost overall sales after a tough year of trading. Meanwhile, there can remain a focus on quality when it comes to their flagship products.

Don’t get lost in the noise

Even those with reservations about the expectation of heavy discounts are acknowledging that Black Friday is firmly etched on the consumer calendar. Therefore, it’s important to consider running some sort of campaign, however small, and pushing it through as any channels as possible, even if you don’t refer to it as a Black Friday deal. One retailer is changing the name of its campaign completely, while crafting their creative around the theme of their core product range to attract customers. Others are supplementing or even replacing discounts with free giveaways and ‘gifts with purchase’.

In conclusion, it seems as though those who have been particularly hard hit by the events of 2020 will be taking advantage of Black Friday deals to meet their sales targets this year. Meanwhile, for those who have gained traction with online sales during lockdown, the plan is to strategise and structure their deals to reach the right customers at the right time.