The annual retail phenomenon Black Friday has become a global spectacle, with viral videos showcasing the chaos of shoppers battling for bargains. Yet, how many are aware of the term’s origins and its connection to this anticipated sales event?
Falling on the day after Thanksgiving in the US, Black Friday marks the start of the Christmas shopping season. While a common misconception attributes the term to retailers turning profitable (‘in the black’), the term actually originated from Philadelphia police in the 1960s describing the city becoming “black with traffic” due to holiday shopping.
Despite Black Friday’s hectic reputation, this day can be a unique opportunity for your brand to observe consumer behaviour, tell a compelling story, and stand out from the crowd.
If you need inspiration, here are some consumer trends on Black Friday which can elevate brands above the noise and make a memorable impact on customers.
It’s no secret that consumer demand for sustainable products and ethical retail practices is surging. Over half of Irish consumers, as per the WIN World Survey, claim that a brand’s social responsibility practices influence their purchase decisions, particularly among the younger generation (61%).
For instance, IKEA’s #BuybackFriday initiative repurchased unwanted furniture to promote sustainable consumption. ‘Green Friday’, an environmentally-conscious alternative to Black Friday is also gaining traction, with Krispy Kreme Ireland planting a tree for every online order in 2021. Aligning your brand with sustainable programmes not only impresses your environmentally conscious consumers but also does something good for the planet!
While globally ‘Green Friday’ is associated with sustainability, an Irish ‘shop local’ movement named Champion Green has redefined the concept. This Irish version promotes small businesses’ offers and initiatives collectively on the day. Green Friday’s past participants have included Irish businesses such as Bamboo baby, Dublin Herbalists, and Lough Ree Distillery.
With 71% of Irish spending on Black Friday in 2021 being local, it’s a strategic move for small businesses to take part in initiatives like Green Friday. Participation can not only attract new customers but also enhance brand awareness, foster synergy with similar businesses, and may generate media coverage.
On a day when every brand is competing with sales and discounts, standing out might mean not participating in the trend at all. By resisting the urge to follow the crowd on Black Friday, brands can attract attention and make a statement about overconsumption in retail.
Several brands, like Patagonia with their infamous ‘Don’t Buy This Jacket’ campaign in 2011, have joined the anti-Black Friday movement. Last year, Irish-owned fashion brand Audrey Hamilton Apparel, abstained from Black Friday emphasising their commitment to slow fashion. By forgoing substantial profits on this day, brands can position themselves as advocates for sustainable causes, gaining consumer attention and support.
Brands who are interested in giving back to the community and contributing to worthy causes can leverage the heightened retail traffic on Black Friday as an opportunity for impact. Charitable causes often get drowned out in the Black Friday noise, providing your brand with a chance to make a statement about its ethos by elevating organisations you believe in.
In 2016, Patagonia donated 100% of their Black Friday profits, totalling $10 million, to grassroots environmental groups. While this level of fundraising may be ambitious for many businesses, smaller-scale philanthropy, as demonstrated by Seymours, a Loughrea-based furniture supplier raising €550 for Galway Hospice last year, can be equally effective.
In conclusion, boldly stand out this Black Friday. Use the spotlight to not just showcase products but also share a story defining your brand and its values. Go beyond transactions, connect on a deeper level, and foster meaningful relationships beyond the holiday shopping rush.
If you’d like to find out how PR can help your brand to stand out from the crowd, not just on Black Friday but all year round, we’d love to chat. Contact us today for a free PR consultation.
About the author
Claire Smyth is a Client Executive with Cullen Communications, specialising in media relations, social media, influencer marketing, lifestyle, and mobility.