20 November 2015
Our latest trends report, Cultural (Con)fusion, highlighted the spread of interest in celebrating events and traditions from different cultures. Black Friday is one such event. It’s grown from being uniquely American event a decade ago, to become a global phenomenon.
For many countries, Black Friday has only started to generate consumer interest in the last 2 years. Some have taken the Thanksgiving festival that immediately precedes Black Friday to their hearts in countries outside the US. In the UK, a small proportion of the population (2.7%) who are of British origin state that have started to celebrate Thanksgiving in the last couple of years.
While the spread across the globe has been quite startling, the intensity of interest across countries does vary considerably from an almost mild interest to large portions of the population rushing to get their hands on the best deals. The economic scale of Black Friday is profound with the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil and Romania being the top countries considering the size of their retail sectors and the level of interest in Black Friday in the population.
The chart below demonstrates the explosive growth of Black Friday across several countries, and the dramatic growth in a few of them over the past 4 years. What is interesting is the relative decline that we are seeing in the US and Romania, over the last couple of years. Canada, Brazil and the UK are all on a strong trajectory, and we anticipate that these countries will see the 2015 Black Friday event outstrip 2014 (though there is potential for Brazil’s economic woes to impact the event).
Black Friday Interest is Starting Earlier Every Year
In 2004 people the buzz around black Friday was contained to the week prior; In 2010 buzz started 6 weeks before; In 2014 interest started 9 weeks before; In 2015 this interest started 10 weeks prior. While interest in the US is seen earlier each year, interest in Canada and Romania, for Black Friday has started a full 2 weeks prior to interest in the US over the last couple of years and Brazil is quickly catching up. The UK lags considerably in comparison to the other markets.
Given the lack of heritage for countries outside of the United States, the date for Black Friday is somewhat of an arbitrary affair. Given the proximity to Christmas there may be the temptation in future years for retailers outside of the US to break from the herd and start their Black Friday promotions earlier as there is significant shopper interest well ahead of the event and attempt to maximise the distance between Black Friday and Christmas which has traditionally been the major trading event.
Getting Shopper Cut Through
In the top 5 Black Friday countries, the Black Friday event dominates online search queries (e.g. Black Friday, Black Friday 2015, Black Friday Vancouver) over searches on particular retailers. This rule holds for all markets with the exception of Romania where shoppers are searching for the deals of specific retailers. Romania is the only market where retailer specific searches dominate (e.g. emag, altex, flanco).
In the table below we can see the cut through that individual retailers are getting. This is measured by analysing searches associated with Black Friday which contain the retailer’s name.
Black Friday will continue to spread across the globe. Even countries such as France that have a very low relative level of interest in the event saw a 400%+ increase in interest in 2014. Numerous countries are on the cusp of going “all in” on Black Friday. Retailers across the globe should therefore understand the likely tipping point for their country and be readying plans to ensure that they are not caught out when Black Friday hits. Retailers fast track these plans by analysing the success factors of the retailers that are getting the highest cut through across the globe.