Four very telling marketing trends revealed on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
The perennially important retail numbers for Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday (a triad of mayhem) have been rolling in all week. Many people look at these numbers and simply compare them to last year’s… others see them as a barometer of our economy… still others tune in just to watch the fights at Walmart. (6.9 million views, and counting!)
I see these three chaotic days, though, as a crystal ball of where marketing is headed.
Retail is revealing for all of us marketers. Because of its immediacy, trendiness and direct contact with masses of consumers, you can get a pretty good handle on the state of marketing just by observing.
Here are four revelations that made themselves known to us this past weekend…
1. Brick-and-mortar was a bit of a bust. The stores were bustling, but with too many non-buyers. It was the first spending decline in stores on Black Friday since the height of the recession in 2009. (Even with many stores adding Turkey Day to the shopping menu… it didn’t help overall in-store sales.)
Strange, because many stores reported loads of shoppers cramming their aisles. Were people just working off their turkey dinners or aching to get out of the house? This shows us that a fair number of consumers still seek a physical buying atmosphere… an experience, of sorts… maybe just to physically see and touch merchandise or get ideas. Many bought things, but in less-than-inspiring numbers.
2. Cyber Monday was a sensation, again. Sales surged. It’s rumored that Amazon broke some single-day sales record. Overall, according to IBM, online sales jumped 19% that manic Monday, compared to last year. Online sources say that even on Black Friday, online sales were up 15%.
OK, this isn’t some mind-blowing revelation… we’re all shopping more online, for many reasons. (Convenience, shopping in your PJs, selection and fast delivery all come to mind.)
But here’s the kicker—the retailers who made shopping easily accessible to mobile and tablets got the best bump.
Again, IBM reported that mobile traffic was 30% of website visits… that’s up 58% over last year. Mobile was responsible for 16% of online sales, according to ComScore. That’s huge. And very telling.
When people are shunning stores to shop on the mini virtual stores in their palms, you get an indication of where a big chunk of marketing will be in a few years. More people tended to use their smartphones to browse, but turned to tablets when they bought. Why? My guess is tablets are friendlier to use when you’re trying to place an online order.
3. Email still has its place… especially when it’s backed by big data. I’m guessing your in-box was as stuffed as your turkey. Every retailer I’ve ever bought anything from… ever… emailed me with some sort of offer, coupon or discount. It plays beautifully into purchasing online… you’re right there and just a click away. The smart retailers, though, referenced the types of purchases and preferences I had made before.
This is big data at work. Target is the ninja warrior master of this—having careful records of every single thing you’ve ever bought there, and drawing logical, next-purchase conclusions from that data. It can then tailor offers to you, based on the time of year or what may be happening in your life. A bit creepy, but it works.
4. Discounts are more important than ever. People compare items online and scour their emails for the best deals. They’ll even hold out to see if a better deal comes hurdling through cyberspace. Amazon offered deep discounts on toys, clothing and electronics. Other sites offered free shipping. This shows that the bargain-hunting mentality is alive and well—and won’t be going away anytime soon. If you have a product or service to sell, you’ll have to make it a good deal to get any attention.
All this said, things will likely and radically change again… once Amazon launches its fleet of delivery drones.
– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group