Today is the day known as Black Friday. The day after the annual holiday that is ‘Thanksgiving’ and for the US, the busiest shopping day of the year. For us, its familiarity lives with the Boxing day or St. Stephens Day tradition we have in terms of shopping patterns.
The name originates from the early 1960’s Philadelphia term used to label the heavy traffic and pedestrian movement on the day after Thanksgiving. More recently ‘Black Friday’ derives from the concept that businesses operate at a financial loss, or are “in the red,” until the day after Thanksgiving when massive sales finally allow them to turn a profit, or put them “in the black.”
Although Thanksgiving in November is unique to the United States, the Black Friday shopping frenzy has caught on worldwide, especially with the rise in online shopping. Once a one-day-only event, Black Friday has changed into season-long promotions and deals designed to draw in customers. Retailers have often relied on this shopping surge, and the term “Black Friday” refers to their ability to recoup year-long losses in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Black Friday sales soared in 2020, with online sales growing by 22%, according to Adobe Analytics. This, in part, was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which accelerated an already booming sales season for digital commerce.
Supporting Local Enterprises
From a B2C perspective, the reality is that you are not going to be able to buy 100% local every time but if you shift 10-20% of your shopping to local, you’re going to make a significant impact on that business. Other ways you can help your local retailers include; spreading the word with family and friends, engaging with small businesses on social media, reviewing your experience, and shopping through platforms that connect you with small businesses.
Is Black Friday for B2B too?
Digital commerce is also impacting B2B buyer behaviour as they shift to a world of digital self-service and start to resemble their B2C counterparts. Recently, a survey by McKinsey noted that mobile-app ordering grew by 250%, preferences for digital orders increased by 30%, and live chat was the top channel for researching suppliers. In the near future, these trends will not change: 65% of bosses in the same survey noted that the remote model is as effective as their pre-COVID model.
People love a deal—it’s in our DNA. Sales trigger our brains to release dopamine with the allure of exclusivity on Black Friday ads. These offers override our rational side and activate the reward circuits in our brain. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is real and fundamental human instincts ensure that Black Friday is also capable of tapping into the all-too-human instincts of B2B buyers.
With the use of online marketplaces, greater emphasis on boosting fulfilment, and personalising the customer journey, B2B consumer behaviour is becoming more like B2C. These changes make Black Friday—traditionally an event for B2C—possible for B2B as well.
The B2B companies that benefit from this behavioural change are those conducting business with B2C consumer goods and retail products. Some B2B examples include selling to painters, electricians, office supply buyers, retailers, restaurants, hotels, among others. If a B2B merchant’s customers have a Black Friday marketing campaign running, then they can also run campaigns.
Products that solve a specific need at a particular time are a bad fit for Black Friday. Spare machine parts fit into this category—nobody is looking for replacement parts for fully operating machines on Black Friday. Then, there are more complex B2B solutions, which require a number of key decision-makers in a company to approve the purchase. According to Gartner, it takes 6-10 decision-makers to approve a complex B2B solution.
The best fit for running a Black Friday campaign is if B2B companies sell to companies in a handful of industries: fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), fashion, utilities, office equipment and consumable goods. Limited time offers—both quantity and time-based—create a sense of urgency. For instance, offering clients the chance to purchase a specific quantity at a discounted price.
Tips on capitalising on Black Friday for B2B
- Black Friday discounts in B2B do not have to be as high as in B2C.
- A B2B organisation can choose to offer current and new customers an extra service
e.g. free workshop or a free consultation.
- Develop discounts for sales representatives. The promotion can be a great entry point for a conversation.
- Offer an extended warranty on a product or service.
- Hold a discount to work to timings of budget approvals and new quarter planning.
Both B2C and B2B companies can benefit from the opportunities brought by Black Friday. This event can and should be the foundation to build solid business relationships.
Deirdre Lysaght, Digital Presence Manager