SA shoppers bought into Black Friday this year. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
SA shoppers bought into Black Friday this year. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Black Friday is a relatively new concept for South Africans, but it has rapidly gained traction, with retailers recording a spike of 200% in sales on this day over the past three years.

Black Friday started in the US. It takes place the day after Thanksgiving to mark the start of the festive shopping season.

It usually involves mayhem as consumers globally flock to shopping centres to take advantage of savings offered by brands that are all competing against each other to offer the best deals.

Adele Coelho, global intelligence provider Meltwater’s head of marketing for India, the Middle East and Africa, reports that discussions on social media platforms across SA contained more than 42,000 references to Black Friday this year.

She notes that not all of these references were positive. In fact, a quarter of all social media engagements on the day had negative connotations, particularly with regard to the excessive queues consumers faced, as well as traffic and crowds, which reached epic proportions on the day. One such example on Twitter was “I’m convinced hell is the mall on Black Friday.”

Based on the online conversations about Black Friday that were monitored by Meltwater, Coelho reveals some relevant points retailers need to be taking into consideration when planning next year’s Black Friday campaigns. She says that while most brands plan their Black Friday campaigns well in advance, the brands that stand head and shoulders above the rest are those that are willing to be flexible, monitor online discussions and use these insights to adjust their marketing strategies. The result, she believes, will be a peak in sales and stronger brand affinity.

With brands across the board offering discounts of between 30% and 40%, those looking to generate greater visibility and drive sales during promotional opportunities like Black Friday, says Coelho, need to up the ante. She uses Flying Fish as a good example of a brand that cut through the noise on the day. “Flying Fish offered consumers the chance to win 100% discount on 20 cases of their beer by simply retweeting what the brand said on ‘Flyday’ – the beer’s rebranding of Black Friday. It was a strategy that generated over 800 retweets and 200 likes,” she reports.

However, brands and marketers need to ensure that their messaging is consistent with their offering, she says, cautioning against “baiting and switching”. Brands that are seen to be misleading consumers on social media will very quickly face the wrath of the online community, she says, adding that this can be avoided by ensuring that the promotion on offer is clear and, most importantly, that the brand delivers on its word.

The big take-out: Black Friday is a worldwide phenomenon, generating millions in sales, and brands that want to stand out should note that not all sentiment on social media was positive during the recent Black Friday, and they should adjust their strategies accordingly.

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