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  • Helen Pritchett

Black Friday; pros, cons, and promos


To have an insight into what Black Friday means to the retailer and consumer today, it is important to understand its origins. According to www.history.com the first recorded use of the term Black Friday referred to a financial crisis, the crash of the US gold market in September 1869. Two notoriously ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, worked together to buy up as much as they could of the nation’s gold, hoping to drive the

price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. In September, the conspiracy finally unravelled, sending the stock market into free-fall, and bankrupting everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers.


However, the modern narrative of the Thanksgiving shopping-related Black Friday tradition links it to retailers. Allegedly, after an entire year of operating at a loss – in the red – stores would earn a profit – and go into the black – on the day after Thanksgiving, because holiday shoppers spent so much money on discounted merchandise. Though it is true that retail companies used to record losses in red and profits in black when doing their accounting, this version of Black Friday’s origin is the officially sanctioned – but inaccurate – story behind the tradition.


No matter its origins, the Black Friday we know today sends retailers and consumers into a tailspin with retailers competing with one another to attract consumers to spend hard earned money on cut price items. And with Christmas only 5 weeks away, consumers are keen to bag bargains to place under the tree.


Undoubtedly, Black Friday is now considered the biggest shopping event of the year, even superseding the traditional Boxing Day sales in the UK. There are millions of deals to be had on electrical goods, homewares, fashion, beauty, and toys, to name but a few. Opportunities to grab a bargain appear endless with most major retailers and brands taking part. In case you are looking for some bargains, The Independent has collated a list of some of the top items available at reduced costs this coming Black Friday.

As well as becoming a ubiquitous date in our calendar, Black Friday is morphing into more than just one day. The original single day stretched into a weekend of offers and began to

incorporate the following Monday, now known as Cyber Monday. But the capacity to sell has not stopped there. In recent years retailers are extending their promotions and offers into what is often more like a month of opportunity to save.

The Pros Shop carefully and sensibly and you can get some great bargains during the Black Friday event. This year there are great offers from big brands that will save you money and make someone (or yourself!) happy this Christmas. Ostensibly, there are some incredible offers available for consumers. But do shop around and do your research. If you're unsure how good a deal is, use a tool such as PriceRunner to compare prices across retailers.

A benefit of the extended sale period means you have time on your side so there is less chance of being rushed into a spending spree or making impulse purchases you might later regret.


Whether you achieve more sales or not, you will have generated footfall to either your store or your website (or both). Your promotion will have raised awareness which could well lead to future purchases.

Black Friday presents an opportunity to interact with dormant customers whose relationship with you may have lapsed. Your offer provides the chance to invite them to re-engage with your brand; send a welcoming SMS or email detailing your promotion and offering an incentive to buy.

The Cons … Watch out for sneaky Black Friday tricks Consumer champion Which highlights some of the more dubious, underhand tactics some retailers use to pressure you into making a purchase. These include:

  • Anchor pricing (when products are on sale more often than they aren't)

  • Pressure selling ('30 people are viewing this right now!') and

  • Dubious claims about the 'before' price of a product.

If you hit the right note with your offer, be prepared for an influx of customers … does your business have the wherewithal to service this additional level of business?

Should your business get involved? In some respects, this seems like an easy decision to make. Why not when you can boost sales and leverage the hype to build long-term brand awareness and gather customer data for ongoing marketing?

On the downside, there may be costs attached which outweigh the benefits. For example, selling more goods results in increased packaging and distribution costs, not to mention returns handling.

Before jumping in you should also consider the potential long-term costs, e.g., the impact

on consumer perceptions and the high likelihood of having to undertake paid advertising pr purchase contact data to which you can promote your Black Friday offers, unless of course you have a big enough database to promote your involvement in-house.

ProspectaBase and TechKnow.Online both get involved in Black Friday, giving them the opportunity to offer customers a discount, to generate leads and to spark longer term relationships. To see what their offers are this year, follow their social accounts – ProspectaBase and TechKnow (the latter via CPB UK’s profile).

If you are keen to participate in Black Friday but are unsure where to start or how to promote your offer, here are some ideas for a small multi-touch campaign to spark your prospect's interest:

  1. Introduce your offer to your database by email: use attention grabbing headlines such as 30% OFF!! To capture interest and get people clicking

  2. Promote by post, direct mail isn’t dead: if you have the budget, post can be a great way to follow up to drive anticipation with more specific detail on your promotions

  3. Encourage action by SMS: enhance your offers with follow extras via SMS such as free shipping to build trust

  4. Pick up the phone to have chat and engage your prospect in conversation: provide them with the features and benefits they need to make their purchasing decision

  5. Use email or SMS to remind people your offer ends soon: build a little urgency, FOMO can drive activity

  6. Use a multi-touch approach using email, SMS, and post to say thank you: thank your customer for their order via automated email, keep them informed of their delivery via SMS, consider sending a thank you postcard after delivery is completed

Black Friday is a global event that can offer amazing opportunities to save money on high and low value purchases. As with any offer, check the details, small print, and any T&Cs before you buy. The likelihood is you’ll be getting a bargain but don’t get caught up in buying frenzy. Whether you are buying as a consumer or a business, make sure you focus on purchases that you need.


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