Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become household names to today’s digital savvy consumers and they’re often firmly marked on the family calendar. From a retailer and ecommerce perspective, these two shopping events are the default starting point for festive season campaign planning and a key focus for pre-Christmas sales.

Despite the universal acknowledgement of these discounted shopping dates, the real opportunities might be surfacing a lot earlier than you think.

An early start

Google’s own data shows us that 34% of all Christmas shopping is conducted by mid-November. 50% of present buying is completed by the time we reach the end of November. Black Friday actually drops on the 29th of November this year, later than usual, which means that a significant chunk of Christmas shopping and gift buying will be done and dusted before Black Friday even hits. While we know consumers are increasingly aware of Black Friday sales, they simply aren’t prepared to wait until that late in the season to make their essential purchases.

This data clearly shows that you can’t afford to wait until Black Friday before rolling out your seasonal marketing. Activating your festive strategies earlier means you’ll be in a much better position to hit your seasonal sales targets and take advantage of those pre-Black Friday consumer purchases. Of course, you don’t want to neglect the Black Friday weekend nor the early weeks of December as they still carry enormous and concentrated buying activity but, you do need to be prepared for the seasonal sales period to start earlier than you may otherwise be used to.

November and December Activity

Some of the November peaks in search activity aren’t purely linked to the buying that happens during the same period, they are caused by consumers preparing for their December spending. Peaks in clarification and question orientated search terms around products and purchases take place during this period as shoppers weigh up what they want to buy. Much of the actual purchasing will then take place after November’s pay day.

This trend again confirms that early and mid-November marketing activity is crucial. Brands waiting to activate their strategies during what they think is ‘peak season’ will be cutting their overall opportunity both directly and through the consideration portion of the purchase cycle.

It’s simple to begin actioning and spending against your festive marketing strategy early but, don’t think that your work is done. To really make the most of every opportunity that comes with the festive period, remember that the most effective messaging for the audience will change throughout this timeline. This means you may need to adjust your campaign text, offers and narrative several times from early November right through until the final purchasing phase at the end of December to remain relevant.

Changing habits

Google’s data both in the previous graph and in this YoY growth analysis show two things. Firstly, it’s clear that awareness of Black Friday weekend has grown. Secondly, consumers are changing their search habits and putting more emphasis on obtaining the best prices and snapping up the best available deals. This comes ahead of searching for specific products. Your messaging and approach in general will need to take this into account. We can also see from this data that the expectations and intentions around shopping take place both in the build up to Black Friday and throughout the shopping weekend thereafter.

Becoming more effective

In order to be as effective in your communications as possible, your festive season strategy needs to allow for a change in tone and messaging to reflect these shopping habits. Your November activity should be focussed on providing clarity and problem solving information to consumers in order for them to be comfortable enough to bank on a given brand for an early purchase.

As we get to late November, place a greater emphasis on best price offers and deal orientated messaging to reflect the main focus of the consumer purchase journey. For retailers, offering delivery guarantee confidence as the calendar starts to tick down to the big day itself is also important and needs to be referenced from at least mid-December.

With increased search and online buying potential, it’s fair to expect that this year could be bigger than last year’s record breaking Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  To earn a significant portion of sales you can’t be late to the party or fail to adjust your approach and messaging in line with the peaks and troughs we see above.

If you’d like more help to make this your best ever holiday shopping season and maximise every festive opportunity, contact the Adrac team today.