Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday: It’s All About the Consumer

Black Friday sure isn’t what it used to be.

Yes, Black Friday and Thanksgiving raked in a whopping $7.9 billion in online sales, according to Adobe Analytics, which is almost an 18% increase from 2016. Black Friday also served as a personal milestone for Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, whose net worth exceeded the $100 billion mark for the first time ever.

Record growth. Record numbers. By all accounts, the Cyber Five weekend is tracking in the logical direction.

What’s shifted about Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the entire shopping weekend is the consumer conversation around it.

Remember the way you talked about Black Friday just a few short years ago? Friends and relatives swapped strategies for where they would be at 6 a.m.? Which stores had the best deals, which stores had the worst lines, which stores would be open the earliest? And if you didn’t get there, you’d miss out on the deal of the year.

What changed? A lot. But most importantly? Consumer behavior.

Today’s consumers are spoiled. They don’t have to wait in lines. They don’t have to brave the cold. The internet never closes. These consumers have 24/7 access to millions of products, good deals and convenient delivery fees. They know it, and you know it.

And since shoppers are no longer limited to the operating hours and physical constraints of brick and mortar stores, why would they (and retailers) still be confined to traditional, defined “holidays” for deals?

They aren’t. And it looks like more and more retailers are picking up on that fact.

In the same way that holiday decorations tend to show up earlier and earlier every year, holiday promotions now start earlier and last longer. That’s why it wasn’t uncommon to see plenty of “Pre-Black Friday” deals this year from leading retailers like Walmart, Sears and Target. And why it’s becoming standard practice for “Black Friday deals” to last clear through the weekend and into Cyber Monday. Amazon even got a jump on “Cyber Monday” deals on Sunday.

Why the shift? Because it’s all about the consumer, and retailers are doing everything they can to go above and beyond and turn heads.

For those in e-commerce, it’s time to rethink what is considered a “holiday.” What many consumers, publications and retailers still refer to as “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” are steadily just a part of an amorphous shopping frenzy we generally refer to as the “Cyber Five” (the five-day shopping period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday). And honestly, that term might even become limited in scope a few years from now. Because it’s about more than just THIS day of premium promotions… Or THAT day or cyber savings.

It’s a new consumer mindset that thaws each year just before Thanksgiving (alongside their frozen, store-bought turkey) and lasts for many days — or even weeks. And for retailers, it’s an extended period of customer-chasing that’s getting bigger, longer, louder and more competitive every year.

The bottom line for sellers: Your consumers are learning just how many deals and products they have waiting around each corner. Fewer of them will be camping outside your store, so you need to continue expanding your scope in how you reach them.

That means bidding up keywords in your digital marketing campaigns beyond the standard holiday windows. It means promoting loyalty codes via email to existing customers weeks in advance. It means thinking mobile-first. It means giving consumers a reason to follow your social media feeds. It means getting a jump on repricing your marketplace listings before — and after — the holidays to snag half-interested consumers in search of better deals. It means promoting your products through tools such as Amazon Marketing Services, eBay Promotions Manager and others — not just during peak holiday seasons, but year round.

It means putting consumers first.

Because another holiday is always around the corner. And they know it.

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