These Holidays are the New Black (Friday)

Diverse and alternative buying occasions and savvy digital experiences are giving brands more opportunities to get into the black.

by Adobe Communications Team

posted on 11-19-2018

There’s a good reason for the name “Black Friday.” For years, retailers aimed to “be in the black” (or, profitable) for the holidays, starting with a post-Thanksgiving buying blitz. In recent years, “Cyber Monday” is added on for all of us working at our computers after the Thanksgiving weekend. The mini vacation is over, but we continue our buying online.

It may seem like this four-day holiday shopping juggernaut is the purchase occasion of the year. But, increasingly, a new crop of holidays is popping up and stealing some of that Black Friday thunder.

Singles’ Day — a “Global Shopping Festival” launched by Alibaba in 2009 — surpassed $25 billion in online sales in just 24 hours in 2017. In 2018, sales landed at $30.8 billion, making this year’s holiday more than twice the size of last year’s Cyber Monday and Black Friday combined.

In India, initial Diwali sales brought in more than $700 million for Amazon in six days, and more than $1 billion for Flipkart in just over five days.

Even Labor Day was a big day for click-to-buy. In 2018 it became the first $2 billion e-commerce day outside of the traditional holiday shopping season in the United States.

The new holiday shopping landscape is good news for customers who want more opportunities for a good deal, and it’s great news for retail brands looking to capitalize on our ‘love of buying’ during times of celebration.

Maximizing the holiday purchase calendar

It’s essential to get ahead of holiday purchase occasions if your brand wants to be primed to engage and activate customers. Get ahead of the holiday curve: by the time these occasions make it onto most retailers’ radars, it’s often too late to pivot and drive relevant sales.

“Every retailer wants to find opportunities to take advantage of these events,” says Michael Klein, director of industry strategy for retail at Adobe. “The key is knowing how to authentically communicate with the customer and not make it superficial.” Using data to understand these new and emerging purchase occasions and why they matter, retailers can lay groundwork for meaningful customer experiences — and increased holiday sales.

“Having historical data as well as contextual, behavioral data and being able to do quick analyses of that data is key,” adds Gina Casagrande, senior evangelist for Adobe Experience Cloud, focused on personalization. “From there, you need to be able to react to it in real time.”

Beyond that, she notes, retailers need to have content readily available. “Once you’ve identified these opportunities, you need to have enough content to drive personalization. This is where having content workflows tied to your marketing solutions really helps to accelerate your content velocity. In addition, having an ‘always on’ marketing strategy with automated personalization and recommendations can really help.”

For example, during this year’s $2 billion Labor Day buying spree, nearly 40 percent of all online back-to-school shopping happened on a tablet or a smartphone — and one in three digital purchase journeys started from an email. These insights can help inform future back-to-school promotions, content development, and overarching experience delivery.

In the black before Black Friday

Getting a comprehensive view of the holiday opportunity takes the right technology and workflows. Brands need a solid data-driven foundation to predict what’s coming, act on what’s existing, and figure out ways to deliver dynamic customer experiences.

“It’s important to understand what occurred historically, then leverage AI to figure out if there’s something trending that needs to considered,” says Gina. “Leveraging customer data against things like AI, in real time, can help drive dynamic experiences that drive purchases — and satisfied customers.”

Once the purchase behavior of customers is assessed and understood, predictive analytics can help craft a journey that leads straight to purchase. For example, if someone is looking for graduation gifts, being able to key in to motivators that may prompt a purchase can be extremely valuable.

“Why did I purchase Brand X over Brand Y?” Gina asks. “It might be because Brand X reminded me to come in and make that purchase. When a customer is in the consideration phase, they typically make multiple visits before converting. Retargeting is super effective, and showing recently viewed items also helps reduce friction and makes it easier to find relevant products quicker.”

With a comprehensive technology and analytics foundation in order, retailers can better predict and respond to emerging holidays and critical purchase occasions — buying periods that can help put them into the “black” well ahead of Black Friday.

“Businesses are trying to find reasons to communicate with their customers,” says Michael. “These ‘holidays’ give them occasion to do so.” Now, though, “holidays” can be go-tos like Christmas and Hanukkah, global holidays, seasonal purchase occasions, or new, retailer-driven events like Singles’ Day and Prime Day.

Overall, the goal is to understand what’s coming, so your brand can make the most of a holiday and occasion opportunities. Retailers have been taking advantage of Black Friday for years, and now, with the right data, they are tapping into customer mindsets to expand the shopping scope with new “add to cart” days. The opportunities are big — and they can mean big business.

“The ‘holiday’ calendar will continue to expand,” Michael says, “and it’s important to know where you and your brand fit. If you can, you’ll be well-positioned to drive more loyalty, more sales, and better customer experiences.”

Prepare for all of the holidays with insights and expertise from the Brick-and-Click Experience series, now on the Adobe blog.

Topics: Industry, Corporate Marketer, Retail

Products: Experience Cloud