Is Black Friday Already Here? In October?
Well This Seems Early.
I saw a stat this week from one of our vendors, AgencyAnalytics, stating that 43% of US consumers plan to start shopping before the end of October and 68% before Thanksgiving. Seeing the numbers surprised me, but taking a step back, it fits.
Looking across the Outdoor Industry, with some segments still dealing with a lot of aged inventory, we've seen this push for earlier sales. In some ways, there were no significant sale periods like Labor Day, just a summer of constant promotions. Some large retailers have been on permanent discount this summer with sales over 50% off. Heck, the largest eBike brand in the US has already started its Black Friday sale. And eBikes are pretty much the only category in the cycling market that is in the positive according to various data points from Circana and S&P Global (an excellent benefit of joining PeopleForBikes is getting access to really amazing datasets).
I dove deeper into the numbers. According to Statista, 56% of shoppers in 2022 started Holiday shopping in October. The AgencyAnalytics numbers were actually based on Statista data from the year prior.
With all that being said, are you leaving money on the table if you start BFCM deals at the end of November? Covid caused a massive shift in sales, with everyone moving earlier. Last year, we saw most brands start discounts around November 15th and thought it was crazy that HomeDepot began November 1st.
This year, with some brands already going off price, a large number going the first week of November, and pretty much everyone else going the second week, this shift is here. But is it a bad thing?
When I posted the AgencyAnalytics chart on our IG account, a colleague responded to the message saying how sad this shift was. I partially agree but mostly disagree; this shift is good. From a consumer standpoint, there is a lot less pressure. No more stampede of people at retail stores, and the craziness is generally spread out more. This gives people more time to shop and research.
From a brand standpoint, this is also a really good shift. Back in the day (when "Cyber5" was a thing), you pretty much had one shot at your marketing campaigns. A short 5-day window meant you could only make a few adjustments, and there was so much consumer pressure that it was hard to gain new customers. Now that we have the entire month, we have some more flexibility. For example, a Meta or Google Ad can take 1-2 weeks to come out of the learning phase. You can see what messaging worked the first week of November and tweak it for the rest of the month. There is more time (and a greater need) for segmentation.
Plus, with consumers having more time to buy, they actually have more time to research. In years past, having only a few days to introduce a brand to new customers and convert them was a tall order. Now, you have the time to get your brand in front of new customers and drive them down the sales funnel & the path to conversion.
This will require a slightly different approach. There is still a heavy focus on remarketing, but now we can better introduce unique selling points instead of just a sale discount. But don't get me wrong, the deal still helps.
What are you seeing this year? What are your predictions for BFCM? I would love to hear them. Could you send me an email or drop us a message? If you're local to Park City, let's meet up for a drink (coffee or a beer). Or if you're heading to Outdoor Retailer, let me know. That is only a couple weeks away as well.
- Tim Akers