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What we’re expecting:

Black Friday and Cyber Monday will continue to blend together, with deals extending from one to the other and ending with Cyber Week. Most retailers have already kicked off their holiday deals, which is especially important since this season has six fewer shopping days than last year due to the later Thanksgiving. With the shorter selling season, expect notable Black Friday deals on big-ticket items that differ from preholiday deals to retain the day’s point of difference. Some of these deals will appear a few days leading up to the main event to encourage undecided shoppers, while also giving retailers a leg up to capture share of spend. Cyber Monday will take on a more dominant role with a variety of deals across multiple categories; however, promotions across electronics, apparel, home, and toys/gaming should continue to own the top spots.

Key themes we will be watching for on Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

Encouraging long-term shopper relationships: While a number of retailers like Costco, Kohl’s, and Lowe’s have launched their Black Friday preview deals already, most have kicked off more general holiday-focused promotions. However, these retailers are encouraging shoppers to sign up for emails or download their apps to be “in the know” when Black Friday deals drop. For example, Target has alerted shoppers to sign up for emails about Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Macy’s told shoppers to bookmark the Black Friday page for exclusive deal previews and encouraged them to make a Black Friday wish list for easier shopping during the event. Home Depot is giving incentives to those who sign up for its emails for exclusive Black Friday access, while also encouraging shoppers to download its app to get early notifications about savings. Kohl’s and JCPenney have also advised shoppers to sign up for emails to get early access to deals. The retailers’ goal? To create a relationship that extends beyond Black Friday and to have shoppers use their apps for future shopping.

Engaging with shoppers during Black Friday: Our hot-off-the-press October 2019 ShopperScape® survey indicates that only 37% of all shoppers plan to shop on Black Friday, while another 28% are undecided. Among those who plan to shop, just 21% are interested in all Black Friday deals regardless of what is on their shopping list. Knowing this, retailers will need to deliver hard-to-pass-up deals before the big day to convince undecided shoppers to come to the store, while also encouraging other shoppers to buy something they might not have considered.

Differentiating deals beyond key categories: Since retailers will offer big deals across similar categories, such as electronics and toys, they will look to differentiate themselves in other ways. Retailers are expected to showcase their overall offer, including their range of fulfillment options, while carving out additional points of difference. For example, Macy’s will likely bring back its play on “free” items, such as its full rebates. Clubs will tie their offer into a variety of services and branded promotions designed to build loyalty, such as credit card offers at Sam’s Club, grocery delivery and Club pickup offers at BJ’s, and travel deals at Costco. Best Buy will lean into its My Best Buy rewards members. Kohl’s will feature its exclusive/private brands. Amazon will promote Echo, Fire TV, and its other devices as well as its exclusive brands as leading deals during both events.

Promoting environmental- and community-focused experiences: Brands that promote sustainability and doing good are tailoring Black Friday deals around those themes. For example, sustainable clothing company Pact is promoting Green Black Friday when it will give Black Friday prices exclusively to email subscribers. For the fifth year in a row, REI will close its doors on Black Friday with new #OptOutside options that encourage shoppers to participate in outdoor cleanups or other volunteer opportunities. As retailers continue to build their ecosystems and grow their variety of service offers to appeal to shoppers’ desires for meaningful experiences, we will be watching to see if mainstream brands and retailers incorporate these themes.

Stay tuned for more holiday coverage, including our upcoming preview of the full 2019 holiday season.


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