Author: Olivia Jackson, Senior Account Manager
Food and beverage (F&B) operators may feel Black Friday is more of a traditional retail sales opportunity. If that’s the case, they are missing a trick.
Originating in the US as a discount event held on the Friday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday deals have exploded in popularity over the last few years. This is thanks in part to online retail giants, such as Amazon, paving the way for huge price drops, and consumers’ increasing quest to bag a bargain in the final run-up to Christmas. In the UK, for example, 2018 Black Friday online traffic rose by 46% year-on-year, eating further into High Street footfall and shifting focus online.
Regardless of the sector, no customer-facing business operator can afford to ignore the trend towards increasingly digitally influenced and enabled shopping journeys – regardless of whether the product or service is delivered or fulfilled in-store. This means exploiting key seasonal digital sales events, just as an F&B operator may target Christmas diners or cater to birthday parties. The beauty of digital is the opportunity to capture customer data that can drive insight into what they buy and why. If you know, for instance, that a customer shops on Black Friday and Cyber Monday looking for deals, it then becomes possible to use this insight to tempt them into one more sale or visit for other key events such as Christmas.
Winning F&B digital strategies
An F&B operator with no ecommerce capability may feel they have no way to compete digitally. But offering on-the-day, dine-in discounts to drive footfall into sites can give weary Black Friday shoppers a chance to rest their legs and refuel, as an easy way to get more customers through the door. But evidently, there is also an increase in shoppers online looking for discounts. In 2018, analysis carried out by MyVoucherCodes found internet searches for Black Friday deals rose by more than 1,000% year-on-year.
This represents a huge opportunity for F&B operators to influence their target customers’ choice of food and/or drink establishment before and during, as well as after their shopping journeys via digital that many may overlook during the busy Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. The popularity of digital gifting has also exploded in the last few years, and be capitalised on during seasonal and discount events, with the UK gift market now worth an estimated £6bn in 2018. What’s more, gift cards have been the number one requested gift at Christmas 10 years in a row. A separate web-based portal, which negates the need for an F&B operator to turn their website into a transactional ecommerce one, can be a quick and easy way to win with digital shoppers, and can also easily support a marketing calendar of events, to deliver long-term returns on investment.
This opportunity to sweat existing customer engagement and capital expenditure-based investments with the addition of the likes of a gift card programme, allows them to compete with rapidly growing digitally-native competitors, such as third-party delivery operators. Setting aside on-the-day diners and patrons, there were an estimated 1.2 billion visits to websites in the week of Black Friday in 2018, made by online shoppers primed and looking for the best deals. Analytics from the Eagle Eye AIR digital marketing platform confirm, for example, the most digital gifting transactions are completed on Christmas Day. Nothing like that need to find a last-minute present!
Seasonal gift campaign ideas around Black Friday
There are many ways that F&B operators can harness the power of digital to compete during seasonal and/or discount events. We’ve summarised a few examples of Black Friday and Cyber Monday gifting campaigns that our clients have successfully executed to drive gift sales.
- Give that ‘added extra.’ For example, buy a £30 gift card for £25. Buy a £50 gift card for £40. Black Friday gives consumers a chance to be more frivolous versus practical, and is a nice way to drive visits in the traditionally quieter post New Year’s trading.
- Tailor your marketing around self-care. Research from PwC has shown consumers see Black Friday as an excuse to treat themselves, so why not allow customer the chance to indulge themselves!
- Add some suspense! Unleash your inner Agatha Christie and send consumers a code for a mystery discount. Offering a tiered approach e.g. 5% or 10% or 20% off the cost of a gift card can drive purchases that may not have otherwise taken place.
- Be the ‘experience’ – have you thought about offering your customers a packaged gift experience? Forget the monetary value, why not allow consumers to treat themselves to a three-course meal with wine? If your average order value (AOV) is typically £26-£28, design an experience (such as afternoon tea for two) that costs £30.
- Embrace personalisation –demonstrating that you understand your customers’ preferences and habits so you can engage them on a one-to-one basis is important to the future of gift cards, and digital gifting is no different. Give customers the functionality to add a personalised message to their gift or encourage them to sign up for special offers during family and friends’ key birthdays and other anniversary events.
Regardless of what digital marketing campaign you run, F&B operators must ensure they don’t miss the boat. Trends and previous years’ results tell us that a profitable Black Friday is all in the planning. Research from Criteo highlights that online users browse more than they buy, starting in October and leading up to Black Friday. So, start teasing engaging content via digital channels (website, email, app, social platforms) early, so consumers know there are opportunities coming their way.
Contact us by clicking the button above if you would like to know more about developing a gift card programme and how it can help you compete 365 days a year, both online and offline.