Black Friday Do’s and Don’ts

Promotional strategies for one of the year’s biggest shopping events.

Black Friday is just around the corner, and with almost 20 million Canadians [1] and 175 million Americans [2] expected to take part in the shopping frenzy, brands are putting their best foot forward. Black Friday is the kick-off to holiday shopping, and whether or not consumers make a concrete purchase, they are likely conducting research for future purchases, making it imperative for brands to have visibility over this promotional period.

Brands must find strategic ways to cut through the clutter and reach their target audience. With only a few days to go, there are still some key tactics that brands can employ to stand out from the crowd – and some key things to avoid.




In the run up to Black Friday, consumers are inundated with promotions. One of the best ways for brands to differentiate themselves is to provide consumers with an exemplary customer experience. This could mean faster shipping, an extended return period, a charitable component, or some form of loyalty program.

In-stores, retailers can offer excitement within physical spaces through using cutting edge media or creating a sense of discovery. Online, consider extending customer support hours with additional bodies. If hiring seasonal workers isn’t a reality, prepare for the increase in customer demand with chatbots and a refreshed set of FAQ’s. Brands should investigate the needs of their specific target market to understand what the most attractive shopping experience would look like.



Black Friday is no longer only one day, but has turned into several weeks of steep discounting. In the U.S. where Black Friday is an established sales period, markdowns have started spiking earlier and earlier in the week. In 2015, markdown volumes jumped on the day before Black Friday. In 2016, they spiked on Wednesday and in 2017 markdowns spiked on Tuesday [3]. Black Friday’s promotional period is slated to continue extending in both directions, prolonging Cyber Monday sales and offering Black Friday promotions well before the actual day.

Brands that hope to compete over the course of Black Friday need to start communication promotions earlier and earlier in the calendar year. Brands should ensure their communications are varied throughout the duration to avoid Black Friday fatigue.

See below for Canon’s Level Up Black Friday  sale.



Mobile shopping has become increasingly popular during Black Friday sales events. In 2017, Mobile revenue grew by 43% year on year, in the week ending in Black Friday [2]. Mobile sales reached $2 billion for the first time on Cyber Monday, 2017 [2]. A straightforward mobile e-commerce experience is imperative to take advantage of this growing trend.

Sales aside, consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices during their initial product research moments. Without a strong mobile presence, brands will be missing out on influencing consumer purchase decisions at these early stages.

Shop till you drop, a common expression that also applies to the online world, specifically to social media. The biggest online spenders were millennials between 24 and 35, which came out to an average of $419.52 per person [2]. With this demographic being large consumers of social media it is important to create content where they’ll be looking, whether it’s shoppable pins on Pinterest or posts on Instagram it’s a good idea to make your presence and deals known.




Many consumers use Black Friday as an opportunity to start their holiday shopping, clearly indicated by a spike of out of stocks within gifting categories [4] . High priced, seasonal items also see a large spike in demand, with consumers banking on this promotional period to save on big-ticket items.

With this in mind, brands can narrow down a selected range of products to promote, thereby conserving margins on the remainder of their stock. Similar to a loss leader pricing strategy, brands can discount products that specifically fall within one of these categories, and use them as an enticement for consumers to engage with the brand, view the entire product range, or visit store locations.

How to do it right: See below for the big ticket items The Brick will promoting this Black Friday.


Deep discounts are the norm in the run up to Black Friday. Consumers are bombarded with promotional communications across a plethora of online and offline platforms. Brands that can create a customized approach will break through this clutter and deliver more meaningful brand communications.

Brands can provide a personalized shopping experience through curating gift selections and providing product recommendations based on a consumer’s search and purchase histories. Remarketing can be an especially powerful tool during this period by putting a product of interest directly back in front of the shopper. This can help retention after cart abandonment and better incent conversion.



It may be tempting to have an Instagram exclusive promotion or an in-store specific discount, but today’s modern consumers are frequently moving between the online and offline worlds, with visibility of brand offerings on multiple channels. Toggling between different platforms to understand a brand’s best promotion will leave consumers feeling frustrated.

Ensure prices and inventory are the same across online and offline platforms. With consumers expecting a seamless transition between digital and analog worlds, it is also important for brands to offer omnichannel solutions whenever possible.

How to do it right: See below for three of Leon’s digital spots for both tv and web.



Brands have the best chance of reaching consumers through providing added value over and above their promotional offers. With excellent customer service, customized communications, and added convenience, brands can set themselves apart from their competition and better engage with their consumers.