by Charlie Casey
Autumn is upon us, and so many consumers enjoy the rituals of this season — apple picking, leaf peeping, and pumpkin spice lattes. As we get closer to Thanksgiving, many shoppers still make their holiday gift lists in anticipation of the deals to be had on Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM).
It is not a stretch to call BFCM a ritual, especially since it was not that long ago when everyone searched for the best deals to be had for a TV or the lowest price for a toaster or coffee maker. Over the years the ritual has undergone changes, and no longer are customers lining up in front of the local “big box” stores in the numbers they once were. Cyber Monday extends the entire week for some retailers as much of the holiday gift selling has moved online. While there certainly will be bargains offered, and there are still shoppers that plan their budgets and schedules around the discount event, overall, the joy of BFCM has been diluted, according to LoyaltyLion’s most recent survey.
Survey Says BFCM Brands Can Do Better
LoyaltyLion recently queried 2,014 U.S. consumers and asked them how they perceive BFCM and the shopping experience during this time. The findings were enlightening and revealed that customers feel underappreciated, undervalued at this time of year, and are distrustful of brands that offer Black Friday discounts. The company compiled the survey results in their latest Discounting Playbook 2021 report. They found that overall, U.S. consumers have developed a level of skepticism about the BFCM event. For instance, a majority of Americans said brands:
- Send too many promotional messages in the run-up and during the BFCM period (64%)
- Do not do enough to prepare for the rush of orders they will receive during BFCM (63%)
- Emphasize winning new customers over making their existing customers feel special during BFCM (63%)
- Offer discounts that are never as good as they expect them to be (62%)
- Do not discount the products they really want (65%)
The survey also asked consumers their opinions of the brands that offer BFCM deals, and 63 percent said that the price reductions and offers provided during this period impacted their trust in businesses. LoyaltyLion dug deeper, wondering why pricing would impact trust, and found that a majority — 59 percent — believe that brands push lower quality products during BFCM.
It Is Time for BFCM to Evolve
The survey provided insight into what can be done to gain the trust of the U.S. consumer over BFCM. First, the phrase “everyone loves a bargain” still holds true according to the results, with 71 percent of those surveyed saying they would be actively looking for discounts on BFCM. Although, alternative incentives also promoted positive customer sentiment. For instance, respondents said:
- Promotions offering early access to sales make consumers feel positive about brands (75%)
- Early access to new products would enhance positive sentiment (73%)
- Free or discounted shipping is desired by consumers as are loyalty points that consumers could redeem for future purchases (80%)
- Unconditional percentage-off discounts bring about positive feelings too (80%)
BFCM Now and Into the Future
This survey can be distilled into a few broad findings that brands should take into consideration for BFCM going forward. BFCM shoppers expect some of their interactions with brands to be negative and produce inferior shopping experiences. This means retailers need to rethink their BFCM sales and assess the deals they offer. Instead, explore how to use new incentives for customers that create emotional connections and build a customer’s lifetime value. Offers such as loyalty points or giving them the option to contribute to a charity will build loyalty during peak sales and long after — while also protecting your profit margins.
This BFCM season brands that present alternatives to simple discounts — such as loyalty points and early access to products — will find that the at-risk customers or those that have looked elsewhere, will give them a second look. It is the brands that stop to consider and accommodate their loyal customers as much as winning new customers that will be the ones that continue to reap the benefits of the BFCM period.
Charlie Casey is CEO and Co-Founder of LoyaltyLion, a data-driven loyalty and engagement platform that powers ecommerce growth. Proven to increase retention and spend, LoyaltyLion is trusted by thousands of fast-growth ecommerce merchants worldwide. Prior to founding LoyaltyLion, Charlie joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as an Economics Advisor before becoming a consultant at Deloitte.