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Black Friday 2018 has put previous years to shame.

Last year, Americans spent $5.03 billion in ecommerce alone. This year, that number rose by 23.6 percent to $6.22 billion. With Cyber Monday already reaching a record-high $7.9 billion, 2018 is set to be one of the best Black Friday years of all time. This remarkable uptick is significant, not only for retailers, but for marketers, as it highlights a crucial insight about today’s shoppers: they are more than willing to spend, if brands offer the right incentives. But, what are these key motivators that get shoppers to complete their path to purchase? To answer this question, we must pay close attention to the brands that most effectively reached customers and maximized revenue over Black Friday weekend. By looking at their trending products and promotional tactics, we can learn how to better optimize our own marketing strategies for future success. For the top marketing insights of Black Friday 2018, keep reading.

  1. Start Early. Be Generous.

This Black Friday was the cherry on top of an amazing year for Amazon. The ecommerce giant recently announced that Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 were the biggest shopping days in the company’s 24-year history. Amazon mentioned that the “Turkey 5,” or the 5 days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, also broke records and saw millions more products sold than in 2017. While Amazon has a history of being one of the top Black Friday performers year after year, Black Friday 2018 saw notable growth, most likely due to new promotions. To celebrate the holiday season, Amazon expanded free shipping to every Amazon shopper, including non-Prime members, on November 5, 2018. With this new promotion, Amazon could offer the largest free shipping selection on the market, which made it a go-to for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. In addition, Amazon Prime members could also shop free same-day delivery on over 3 million items, another great deal that spurred purchases. Giving shoppers nearly a month to take advantage of this unique offer, Amazon secured its position as the most convenient and price-conscious place to complete Black Friday purchases.

  1. Give Customers More with Omnichannel Marketing

In addition to earning high marks in convenience and price, Amazon also fulfilled another key aspect of Black Friday shopping: selection. According to the National Retail Federation, clothing and accessories (59 percent), toys (41 percent) and books/music/movies (40 percent) are 2018’s most popular holiday gifts. Amazon offers all of these products and then some. To satisfy shoppers, the ecommerce brand unveiled its first printed Holiday Toy List this year, a strategic and timely choice that filled the void created by the closing of Toys R Us earlier this year. The 68-page catalog, titled “A Holiday of Play,” offers exclusive deals on popular toys from Lego, PlayStation, Barbie and more. Integrating print and digital marketing, the catalog features QR codes instead of prices, which, once scanned, allows shoppers to directly purchase the product from the convenience of their mobile device. Through this accessible, omnichannel marketing channel, Amazon found a way to reach shoppers on a variety of platforms while streamlining their holiday shopping experience. This commitment to user-friendliness, efficiency and modern technology further enhances Amazon’s reputation as a leader in retail marketing.

  1. Millennials and Gen Zers Have the Purchasing Power

Prior to Black Friday, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay predicted that Gen Z and Millennials would have a major influence on Black Friday revenue. “This holiday season retailers will experience the growing purchasing power of Gen Z and millennials,” said Shay, “Whether they are still in college or raising children, these consumer groups embrace the tradition of prior generations and take full advantage of Thanksgiving weekend deals both online and in stores.” While we have yet to get definitive data on millennial and Gen Z purchases during Black Friday 2018, we can confirm that millennials had a major impact on Black Friday 2017, spending the most money of any generation. A report published by ChargeItSpot indicated that 50 percent of millennials planned on shopping on Black Friday 2018, up 6 percent from last year. This increase in participation can be attributed to a few factors.

First, Black Friday fulfills our younger generations’ need for instant gratification, through both in-store and online shopping. Second, the American economy is well on its way to achieving an annual growth rate of over 3 percent, and a stronger economy means more money to spend. Lastly, America’s youngest shoppers are all about scoring deals on their favorite products. The National Retail Federation found that 66 percent of shoppers seek out discounts when shopping for the holidays. The survey featured two quotes from Gen Z shoppers, with one saying, “The excitement from sales. I like saving money especially when you’re told how much you’ve saved on your purchase. The discount price compared with the actual price always convinces me to go ahead and make a purchase.”

Black Friday 2018 was a big learning experience for retailers and marketers. Looking at the brands that thrived and the trends that arose over Thanksgiving weekend, we uncovered the powerful marketing tactics that resonate with today’s consumers. From generous discounts to omnichannel marketing, brands are developing fresh and innovative ways to reach prospects, paying particularly close attention to the wants and needs of a new generation of buyers.

For more on retail marketing, branding and marketing trends, contact Orange Label.

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Founded in 1972

As Orange County’s longest-standing, privately held response marketing agency, we have witnessed dynamic shifts in the world of marketing. Through it all, we have ensured our clients stay at the forefront of communication and technology, driving response and value with every new endeavor.