Black Friday 2018: Consumers are eager, more digital, and willing to spend – are you ready?

No primary category set

Non-US retailers are now participating in Black Friday and Cyber Monday in huge numbers and these discounting practices are stimulating ever-greater consumer participation in the event.

According to research by Periscope By McKinsey, in Europe just 19% of UK respondents had participated in Black Friday back in 2015 – compared to an impressive 54% in 2017.

It was a similar story in Germany, with 9% of consumers getting involved in 2015 – jumping to 43% in 2017. In Canada, consumer participation has shown similarly impressive gains, growing from 26% in 2015 to 48.5% in 2017– and an anticipated 81% saying they plan to shop or browse in 2018.

Anticipation in the other surveyed regions is also high, with 77% of respondents saying that they too plan to shop or browse at this year’s event and consider making a purchase if the price is right.

What’s motivating them?

Asked to evaluate the top motivational factors for participating in Black Friday 2018, 54% or more of consumers in all countries surveyed said taking advantage of steep discounts was their #1 reason. The opportunity to encounter unique ‘one off’ promotions was the second most motivating factor for consumers, followed closely by making Christmas gift purchases.

Looking at other factors, it’s interesting to note that expectations among European consumers in relation to receiving personalized offers from retailers that incentivise them to make purchases appears particularly strong; 22% of German and 21% of UK shoppers listed personalized messages as being a key consideration for them. Meanwhile, 14% of US and 11% of Canadian shoppers highlighted this as being an important motivational factor – highlighting how a growing number of shoppers have come to welcome and expect personalized messages and offers for this mega event.

What’s shifting?

This year clothing moved ahead of all other categories to take the top spot on consumer shopping lists in all countries we surveyed, pushing Consumer Electronics into second place. While online leads strongly as the primary method consumers plan to use when shopping for Consumer Electronics, 50% of shoppers in Canada and 54% in the US still prefer offline shopping when it comes to selecting new clothes.

Movies, Books and Music emerged as the third most popular product category for 33% of US and 39% of Canadian shoppers, while 40% of consumers in Germany and 42% of UK shoppers plumped for Beauty and Fragrances.

Even in ‘big ticket’ categories where consumers have traditionally exhibited in-store/offline purchasing behaviours – such as Furniture, Household Appliances and Cars – there are indications that a growing number of consumers are now prepared to head online to snap up Black Friday deals. However, consumers are still voting with their feet and heading in-store when it comes to Grocery and Beverages, with an average of 45% of all respondents stating that they prefer to shop offline for these items. When it comes to online shopping, that number drops to 15% or below with the exception of the UK where 27% of consumers showed a higher interest in purchasing their grocery items and beverages online.

Opportunity for retailers

Despite stating a clear objective to participate in Black Friday, consumers appear to be keeping their options wide open when it comes to exactly what they will purchase – and from whom. Asked to evaluate their pre-Black Friday shopping preparations, an average of 82% respondents in all countries surveyed admitted doing no, or very little, pre-planning with regards to which stores or products they’ll seek out on the day. All of this indicates that consumers are prepared to play the waiting game in anticipation of truly tempting offers that capture their attention or incentivize them to make a purchase.

Spending plans for 2018

Once again, this year’s research indicates consumers are planning to spend even more on purchases compared to previous years, reaffirming Black Friday’s increasingly pre-eminent position as one of the most significant revenue generating opportunities in the retail calendar.

16% of US shoppers expect to spend $1000 or more –– with a sizeable 22% budgeting $500 for Black Friday purchases. Meanwhile, 14% of Canadian shoppers have allocated $1000 or more in Black Friday sales, with a further one-fifth (20%) expecting to spend $500.

The majority of UK shoppers (37%) are budgeting between £200 and £300 to make Black Friday purchases. Similarly, 21% of German shoppers expect to spend €200, with a further 14% setting aside €300 for purchases

“Black Friday has become an established feature of the retail calendar on both sides of the Atlantic – one that has dramatically changed the way people shop in the run-up to Christmas.  In return, consumers have changed the core DNA of the event from a traditional, in-store base to a global and digital one.   This year, consumers are clearly eager, ready and willing to participate and shop this Black Friday via multiple channels.  Retailers and brands looking to extract maximum value from this ‘golden’ opportunity should ensure they start early to stimulate the wants and needs of their customers and activate their data with advanced analytics systems for targeted and personal campaigns the closer the event comes to attract high numbers of shoppers – and secure big basket orders.”

– Brian Elliott, Founder, Senior Advisor & Head of Innovation, Periscope By McKinsey



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