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Gifting provides Black Friday discount panacea

Author: Miya Knights, Head of Industry Insight at Eagle Eye Solutions Ltd.

The results are in, and the sales activity kicked off by Black Friday that has come to characterise the pre-Christmas season proves that discount and gift sales aren’t just for singular shopping days only.

Christmas used to be a key seasonal peak. Although, when it comes to counting the effects of discounting, it has been said that pre-festive sales kicked off by Black Friday has become the Grinch that stole Christmas.

Christmas 2019 emerged as the key, but grim trading period for some, denting profits after Black Friday and Cyber Monday pulled festive spending forward on more marked down goods; and, all before the January sales.

It wasn’t doom and gloom for all though. Managing the promotional activity of some of the world’s leading retail, leisure and hospitality businesses, Eagle Eye saw how some bucked the trend using its marketing tools.

Black Friday gift triples sales, traffic

Promotional gift activity tracked in line with increased discounts over the 2019 Black Friday to Cyber Monday weekend. Eagle Eye traffic to clients’ Black Friday campaign gift microsites also increased year-on-year.

Merchants and brands whose Black Friday gift campaigns spanned the whole weekend saw triple the usual gift sites traffic on before and after, while remaining higher than normal once the promotion had ended.

More importantly, this increased activity spurred by dedicated Black Friday marketing was also mirrored in our clients’ gift transactional data, proving that a gift programme can mitigate the impact of markdown sales.

The Thursday before Black Friday 2019 made the biggest transactional gains – up 81% on the previous year. Friday’s transactions were up 20% and, in the four days up to Cyber Monday, they grew by 28% YoY.

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Traffic tracked across Eagle Eye client gift microsites before, during and after Black Friday

A key learning for clients came from the fact that Black Friday 2019 landed on 29th November, which is later in the month than that in previous years. Many operators and brands started their discounting earlier than usual.

Retailers were also able to capitalise on the psychological end-of-the-month ‘pay day effect’ last Black Friday, speculating shoppers would be prepared to splurge or spend a little more impulsively due to its late date.

Season mobile sessions get 20% boost

Impulse buying combined with the convenience of gifting also demonstrated how important mobile has become in the omnichannel marketing mix: sessions were up almost 70%, and down 20% in January.

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Sessions by device, November and December 2019 vs. October 2019 and January 2020.

Digital and plastic gift cards proved a great way of tapping this seasonal discretionary spending; and, Black Friday discounts can be used to drive additional spending by both the persons giving and receiving the gift.

A best-in-class gift programme also provides invaluable customer insight through the sales and redemption process. This insight can then be used to optimise customer acquisition and personalise further engagement.

As a result, Eagle Eye’s gift solutions can help to offset the Black Friday effects of discounting by establishing an ongoing connection with customers that can also be used during other seasonal events, like Father’s Day.

Considering three-quarters (75%) of gift card orders tracked over the Black Friday weekend were placed via email, such (properly permissioned) customer information can be used to drive ongoing contact and loyalty.

Christmas gift redemptions soar 318%

Redemption volumes during this period increased by 37% on the previous year, and notable spikes occurred during Black Friday (up 130% YoY) and Christmas Day, which were up a staggering 319% on 2018.

The split between SMS, plastic and digital volumes also revealed a massive 482% YoY increase in digital promotion redemptions, in spite of Eagle Eye’s growth boosting volumes, while SMS was up 15% and 19%.

These increases validate the work Eagle Eye does with its clients to increase the returns on their promotional investment and gain insight on sales it drives to refine their customer engagement and overall offering.

Although last year’s later Black Friday also shortened the interval to Christmas, straining supply chains as well, Eagle Eye gift and promotions clients were well placed to manage its impact and optimise sales growth.