This week, our American cousins celebrate Thanksgiving; a time of reflection, seeing family, and, of course, giving thanks. This traditional holiday, however, is swiftly followed by intense shopping madness on days now synonymous with dramatically increased expenditure and, even, chaos: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Typically associated with crowds of shoppers packing out the busy malls and outlets, the overarching understanding of these branded shopping days is one of mass consumerism. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the domain of the B2C retailers — or are they? Increasingly, as the trend expands across the pond and beyond, B2B businesses want a piece of the action. But how can they make their mark in this already overpopulated space? And what’s in it for them? Here, we explore B2B’s place in the market.
What is Black Friday, and what does it mean for UK brands?
An American import, Black Friday originated organically as the highest spend day of the year for retailers in the US. Marketers then jumped on the trend and ‘Black Friday’ as a branded event was born. Much like the British trend of scoring the best deal on Boxing Day, the Friday after Thanksgiving Thursday naturally developed into the biggest spending day for US shoppers. Once this trend was realised, it was neatly packaged into a branded concept and shipped out globally.
We started taking notice of it in the UK in 2013, despite the lack of correlation with the Thanksgiving holiday. For us, without the holiday connection, it is purely consumerism at its finest. Brands drop their prices, and we hike our spending in response. Some of the images from last year’s Black Friday depict overzealous shoppers arguing in supermarket lines with huge wide-screen TVs in their arms. Black Friday has transformed, in its journey across the pond, from the malls of America, to the Tesco and Asda stores just around the corner. But the concept remains the same: massive deals and massive profit.
Cyber Monday: a day to rival the Friday bargains?
Not to be outdone by the bricks-and-mortar retailers, online shops have their own deal day to rival the preceding Friday. Again, what started out as a natural spending pattern, said to be the result of people returning to work from the Thanksgiving break and making online purchases from the office, has become a global trend.
For the consumer, this presents a much more attractive option for making the most of these deals, without having to elbow and nudge their way through the heavy crowds on the high street. What’s more, is that even those retailers that offer in-store deals on Black Friday, tend to drop their online prices even further come Cyber Monday. And clearly, all the marketing and price-dropping works: last year, Cyber Monday saw the largest online sales on record in the US.
Paving the way for B2B business
It’s no surprise that these consumer-driven days are dominated by B2C companies. But, more and more, B2B businesses are getting in on the action — offering deals, insights, and incentives to their corporate clients. The nature of these ‘deal days’ means that the consumer is still the end goal, for the most part. B2B comes in further up the sales chain. Their Black Friday and Cyber Monday prep has to start even before those retailers on the front line — laying the groundwork to help their B2C counterparts prepare for the big sale days.
How can B2B business make the most of these events?
Many of the B2B companies already diving into the hype around these events use the days — and the weeks building up to them — to build brand awareness. Taking advantage of the fact that people are more receptive to email marketing campaigns at this time, and therefore more likely to monitor and open their emails, B2B companies can position themselves in a way that allows them to be seen more than at other times, even if they are not offering direct price-dropping deals.
B2B businesses have complex structures to get around when it comes to price dropping and offering deals to its clients. The clients themselves, for example, will have tiered hierarchies that will likely need to be involved in decision-making processes, and longer lead times, so making any deal a reality is not as simple as an individual consumer making a decision to buy on the shop floor. That is certainly not to say that it can’t be done, but rather, a greater level of planning and relationship-building may be required.
Many B2B companies use the opportunity to advise their business customers through reports, — for example, giving stats on last year’s results — or guides — perhaps exploring how their B2C client might prepare for these big days. Such strategies build trust and brand awareness, ultimately strengthening the relationships they have with current clients, and opening themselves up to potential customers and new business.
If you’re a B2B business that services B2C companies along the supply-chain, you are certainly not exempt from offering your own Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts to help your clients ready themselves for the rush. For example, if you’re a packaging supplier, and you know that you have a product that will be in heavy demand come sale day, offering deals on bulk orders could work in your favour.
Even if you are not offering any direct deals, as a B2B business, simply taking advantage of the higher email open rate over this period could win you some extra sign-ups or subscribers. Involving yourself in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday hype does not necessarily mean having to offer knock-down prices; simply getting in on the conversation could be worth looking into.
Jumping on the bandwagon
Some businesses may be disinclined to get involved in these events, chalking them up as fads or crazes. But Black Friday and Cyber Monday have consistently proven themselves to be profitable and lasting in our holiday spending patterns. Simply put, they aren’t going anywhere soon. The key question to ask yourself is “can your business afford not to jump on this particular bandwagon?”. Whether you are B2C or B2B, getting involved in these events indicates that your company is on top of trends, knows what’s important to customers, and showcases audience engagement through a willingness to offer solutions to meet customer need. For B2B brands, establishing strong relationships through the way you engage with these events can prove to be hugely beneficial, creating lasting partnerships with your clients, and seeing more lucrative growth in the long run.
This, of course, requires a solid B2B marketing campaign. Now, luckily, we’re pretty good at them. Simon, our founder, gave a really informative talk on B2B lead generation, for example, at Figaro Digital. You can also read his follow-up blog which expands on the strategy side of things.
If you need help implementing a B2B marketing campaign, we’re your guys. Head on over to our contact page, and let’s see how we can work together.
» Featured » Navigating Black Friday and Cyber...