Retailers need to be thinking beyond Black Friday for sustainable sales growth

There's more to engaging with customers than a frenzied sale, writes CEO and founder Neon Treehouse, Josh White.

Black Friday is nearly here, and there is a dangerous number of businesses going ‘all in’ to meet sales objectives. 

In a world of perpetual sales, customers are less and less willing to pay full price. As a result, retailers, particularly the smaller ones, should be thinking about the long game of brand building and storytelling. This approach will ensure sustainable sales year-round, while still harvesting the available customer purchase intent during key sales periods. 

Black Friday sales are famous for jaw-dropping discounts on everything from fashion to electronics. It’s also the kickstart to the festive season with Christmas sales quick to follow. In Australia, Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping events on the calendar and the momentum is growing dramatically year-on-year.  

According to ABS data, last year total retail turnover soared 13.3%  in November, when compared with 2019 results. According to market research company McCrindle, in 2020 only 4% of Australians had never heard of Black Friday. 

Black Friday is an important time to harvest consumer spending and carve out market share for retailers, and with the manufactured holiday’s soaring popularity it is evident why retailers place value on this period too. 

The issue 

Some brands are only advertising or offering discounts during peak sale periods. The result is customers who are trained to only buy at these times.  

This strategy means all ad spend is being pushed towards peak periods and the RRP may not reflect the true value of the product. It also means a business will have to pay much more than usual to perform better than other brands advertising consistently throughout the year.  

This places question marks over the value of the investment. It is enticing to leverage the value associated with Black Friday, but when deals come at the cost of identity, your brand value will suffer.  

It is also important to consider any unforeseen expenses, such as a breakthrough with a brand audience. A portion of the budget must be set aside to build sustainable growth over the course of the year.  

These issues have the ability to reduce the overall sustainable growth of sales. Even if the consequences are not severe it’s also worth considering that these peak periods attract large swarms of advertisers and cost per 1,000 impressions (CPMs) can skyrocket. This means businesses are paying absolute top dollar for advertising real estate. 

For smaller retailers, it can be difficult to see the value in advertising during traditionally lower value periods. However, a share of voice in the market can place businesses in an overall better position for the festive season, as well as maximising return on ad spend (ROAS). 

There is an opportunity in year-round advertising efforts outside of sales. The growth of mental and physical availability over the course of the year will increase brand recall and preference. This will ultimately put brands in a better position to generate more sales during promotional periods.  

It’s easy to get distracted by unending sales periods, but remember that advertising in months where ROAS drops doesn’t reflect a drop your customer’s interest. Rather, there are broader macroeconomic factors at play.  

Relish and participate in the changing ways of retail. When operating year-round, know that brand loyalty grows outside of sales periods. This visibility will reap greater rewards during major sale periods, such as Black Friday. The key to brand longevity is playing the long game. 

Josh White is the CEO and founder of Neon Treehouse.


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