There’s more to Black Friday than discounted tech products…

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Black Friday used to be about discounts on electricals and gadgets, but new research suggests that UK shoppers are increasingly looking for gifts over the peak period.

Rakuten Marketing finds that, in the UK, shoppers plan to spend the most money on their child (£144) or their partner (£133), reserving less than £100 for any seasonal treats they might want for themselves over the Black Friday period.

With the average gift shopping budget per person now reaching £365 just for their parent(s), a child and partner, it follows that 36% of UK shoppers are using Black Friday and Cyber Monday to buy gifts for others. This rises to 54% in the US.

With Black Friday and Cyber Week fast encroaching, the ubiquity of discounted mobiles, headphones, smart watches and home appliances around this period means that in 2018 a third (33%) of UK consumers will be spending money on home electrical and music systems as gifts.

However, just 8% of UK consumers want to receive such a product as a gift, pointing to significant disparity in supply and demand caused in a large part by the proliferation of consumer technology deals.

Tech loses ground

Globally, technology remains a staple part of gift shopping. Sure enough, at a global level, the types of gift consumers are most looking to receive this holiday season are home electrical and technology gifts (28%).

The UK, however, is one of the first countries to break away from this trend. Locally, cosmetics (16%), fashion (25%) and travel (17%) are what consumers most want to receive as gifts.

This complexity makes buying gifts a far more sensitive process, requiring the buyer to explore avenues truly relevant to the recipient – no surprise that over a fifth said they need ‘all the help they can get’ with making gift-buying decisions.

“Black Friday and Cyber Monday shot to fame offering the latest consumer tech goods at discount prices. However, recent research is now telling us that consumers in the UK are preferring to receive fashion, cosmetics and travel-related gifts. This shows the importance of targeting your shoppers in line with local nuances vs. a one-size-fits-all approach. Consumer behaviour does not fit one mould.”
– Anthony Capano, Managing Director of Europe at Rakuten Marketing

Experiences and travel-related gifts on the rise

Interestingly, in France, 24% of shoppers are now basing their gift shopping around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This is a market where 24% of consumers would most like to receive a technology-based gift, suggesting that in contrast to the UK, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are serving local demand perfectly in their nascence.

Marketers must pay attention to local demand like this. It’s about looking beyond the surface level data to understand not just the purchaser, but the purpose of the purchase.

Rakuten Marketing’s recent research report, Guess Who…Unwrapping the Global Holiday Gift Shopper explores these nuances in greater detail, highlighting experience days (31%) and travel (18%) as two sectors winning far more traction among UK gift shoppers than US counterparts.

“Brands must avoid assumptions and eliminate the guess-work about when, where and how consumers will be looking to buy gifts as the reality doesn’t follow archetypes or publicised trends. Determining whether a customer is buying for themselves or someone else will also be an important distinction. This will involve going beyond the traditional demographic understanding of your customers and uncovering new opportunities that will benefit your business far beyond the upcoming holiday season.”
– Anthony Capano, Managing Director of Europe at Rakuten Marketing

Buyer beware

Despite all that, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales may be losing their appeal in the UK according to a study by personal finance comparison website,, as over one in five (21%) adults admit to regretting purchases they made in last year’s sales.’s survey found that although more people are planning to take part in the sales this year,  (62% of adults, compared to 36% last year), hindsight may be playing a part in their shopping plans, as the average spend per adult is expected to drop by £84.

This is perhaps not surprising considering those who do regret purchases they made in last year’s sales regret spending around £83 on average.

Even so, £7bn is expected to be spent in the sales this year. This includes one in 10 Brits (10%) who have deliberately held off making a purchase from anywhere between the past three months, all the way back to Black Friday last year.


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