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Rudolph may be the most famous of all the reindeer. But did you know he was actually the one born from a marketing stunt during the holiday season of 1939? As legend and truth would have it, Rudolph was created by a copywriter named Robert L. May who worked for Montgomery Ward, a Chicago-based department store and mail order company. May created Rudolph for a children’s book that the department store distributed during the holidays that year — and the rest was history, at least when it came to Santa’s sleigh. That may not be a marketing takeaway or trend from this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping weekend, but it is a pretty good lead-in to the information you’ll find if you keep reading!

Shopping Online Was More Important Than Ever.

We all know that, due to the pandemic, 2020 has been different in every way. This definitely translated to how people shopped on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The year-over-year growth in online sales for both days was significant, with a 21.6% increase ($9.03B) for Black Friday and a 15.1% increase ($10.84B) for Cyber Monday, according to Adobe.

Abandoned cart emails made a significant difference.

If you’ve ever window shopped online and left items in your cart, you’ve probably received an email asking where you went and begging you to come back, sometimes with a code attached. Abandoned cart emails can recover millions of dollars in potential lost sales each quarter, and that has never rung more true than on Black Friday this year. For example, companies who used ActiveCampaign for their abandoned cart series saw consumers abandon 112% more carts than in 2019 — but they recaptured 593% more revenue than in 2019 because of those emails.

Shopping on a laptop? You’re not alone.

While mobile-friendly and mobile-responsive websites and emails are continuing to be at the forefront of the discussion for most marketers, the numbers for Black Friday actually indicated that a significant number of consumers still shop on their laptops and other devices instead of on their smartphones. Adobe noted that shopping on laptops and other devices outweighed smartphones, with $82.8B coming in on the former and $53.2B coming in on the latter. This indicates that, while it is important to create mobile-friendly designs for your emails and websites, having design that works on desktop is equally imperative.

Thanksgiving Shopping Trips Fell Considerably.

Previous years saw millions of shoppers dipping into stores on Thanksgiving Day. In part due to the pandemic and in part due to the increased popularity of e-commerce, these trips became much less significant in 2020. The percentage actually dropped by 94.9% for brick-and-mortar shopping on Thanksgiving Day. Many large retailers also decided to close their doors on Thanksgiving — Macy’s, Walmart, Target and Kohl’s among them — to give their employees a chance to spend the day with family or stay safe on their own.

Black Friday Wasn’t the Start of the Holiday Shopping Season This Year.

This year, the holiday shopping frenzy wasn’t just limited to the five-day period typically seen between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. According to CNBC, shoppers have been checking off their gift lists since October. Interestingly, while spending prior to Black Friday weekend rose by 65.7% year over year, consumer spending actually decreased 22.4% from 2019 during the Thursday-Sunday time period, due to two contributing factors:

  1. Many shops and stores started their deals and offers well in advance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with heavy markdowns offered in the summer due to overstocked merchandise.
  2. Many consumers not only shopped earlier than Black Friday, but also planned to shop throughout the holiday season.

Additionally, CNBC noted that the discounts and offers were actually not as deep as many may have anticipated. Instead of dramatic markdowns, the majority of retailers kept the same promotions as the year prior.

New Categories Emerged as Black Friday Favorites.

While electronics and games still ranked highly for purchases this year, there were some standout favorites! According to CNBC, strong categories for this year included lotions and perfumes, comfortable clothing and kitchen appliances. This fits into stay-at-home trends that retailers have been seeing, with the categories that have soared all year (cooking at home, athleisure and treating yourself to at-home spa days) remaining at the forefront. A breakout hit for Black Friday? Chess sets. This is due to the sudden popularity of The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. (Time to brush up on your knowledge of rooks and bishops!)

Curbside Pickup Reigned Supreme.

Curbside pickup and BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) were already gaining traction prior to the pandemic — and they have soared in popularity since. From local markets to Sephora, most stores are now offering one or both of these services to their customers to help people social distance and stay safe during COVID-19. Knowing that they could pick up their purchases safely, people were more likely to shop because of this. On Thanksgiving Day alone, there was a 31% higher conversion of traffic to websites that offered curbside pickup.

Did you see any of these trends emerge with your holiday sales? We’re here to help! Take a look at our retail marketing capabilities and contact us today.

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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.