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How to Prepare for Black Friday 2023 – Inflation Edition
Kate Banasik
Kate Banasik
November 14, 2023
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How to Prepare for Black Friday 2023 – Inflation Edition

As we approach the end of 2023, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the most significant sales events of the year. However, their dynamics have undoubtedly evolved due to fluctuating inflation rates.

According to Statista, in September 2023, there was a 3.7% rise in prices in the US compared to the same month in 2022, as indicated by the 12-month percentage change in the consumer price index.

With the ongoing inflation and possible supply chain challenges, businesses may need to reconsider their Black Friday/Cyber Monday strategies to fit the needs of today’s consumers. The crux lies in making the prices high enough to maintain margins but not too high – otherwise, you may sour your relationship with customers. 

In this article, I will list some Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing strategies adjusted to the new reality of soaring inflation.

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How will inflation impact BFCM promotions in 2023?

According to the Boston Consulting Group, spending during November sales events is expected to increase between 3% and 22% compared to 2022 (varying by surveyed country). This rise is partly influenced by year-over-year inflation but also signals a growing emphasis on deal-hunting.

A diagram showing how a given percentage of holiday celebrators will save their money

Analysts point to several key trends in customer behavior and marketing strategies for Black Friday 2023:

  • Discount levels may still be a little lower than the previous season. On the other hand, discounts can be replaced by more creative promotions focused on customer retention, such as cashback, gift cards, or different gamification strategies. 
  • Essential items will sell out quickly due to pent-up demand and consumers buying more products in advance in fear of possible supply chain crunch.
A line diagram presenting how US consumers spend on goods and services, inflation adjusted
  • Although Black Friday will still be significant, Cyber Monday is expected to exceed it in terms of both order volume and customer support inquiries, according to Boost.
  • According to Numerator, over 50% of the consumers participating in holiday shopping state that inflation or economic slowdown will impact their special-occasion shopping decisions in 2023.
A diagram presenting what percentage of holiday celebrators are affected by inflation and economic turmoil

How to prepare for Black Friday 2023?

With customer wallets getting slimmer, you might be wondering about tested promotions that can be more effective for price-conscious consumers. Here are some of my favorite marketing strategies for Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. 

1. Optimize CX before Black Friday

Inflation or not, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday around the corner, you still need to ensure that your e-commerce site and sales processes are optimized beforehand. In addition, you need to take a closer look at every step of the user journey – from SEO and SEM to the checkout page and transparent return policies. Even a minor mistake could cost your brand a fortune. 

Black Friday Ecommerce Booster promo banner

2. Carefully plan promotions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

You should plan your promotions way ahead of time. Prepare some pre-launch promotional assets – even if your Black Friday discounts are only revealed that day, you can tease your customers earlier to get their attention and inform them that you are planning something big. You should also test all your placements to ensure everything will run smoothly on the big day. 

There are various promotion tactics you can use. From discount coupons, automatically applied discounts, gift cards, product bundles, free shipping, to extra products or services. If you use discounts, it can be a percentage or dollar off discount, or even a new, fixed price for a product or a bundle. You should choose what works best for your audience while maximizing your ROI. If you are not sure, you can launch a couple of different promotions and A/B test them before Black Friday to learn which promotions perform best. 

Here are some promotion ideas for Black Friday you can use.

What should you A/B test before Black Friday?

You should begin with standard tests verifying which incentives and program rules work best, for example:

  • Incentive type – you should check what brings you the most interest and profit, whether it’s a promotion granting amount, percentage, credits, loyalty points, free items, or free shipping.
  • Inventory – you should test discounting different strategic products or product categories (for example, best-sellers, products with the highest margins, or excess stock) to see how the purchases of these specific goods increase when they are on promotion.
  • Redemption limits – for instance, the minimum order value. You could launch several promotions with different minimum order values and see which performed best.
  • Inflation considerations – given the impact of inflation, assess how pricing changes may affect customer behavior. A/B-test different pricing strategies to balance maintaining profitability and offering attractive discounts during Black Friday promotions.
  • Communication channels - test various communication channels for promoting your Black Friday deals. Explore the effectiveness of email marketing, social media, influencer partnerships, and other channels to identify where your target audience is most responsive.

You can use Voucherify's connections with communication tools like Klaviyo or Braze to easily share timely updates and special offers. This helps you connect with customers more effectively, ensuring your Black Friday deals are smoothly communicated through various channels.

3. Choose what products you will discount on Black Friday

While many shops launch site-wide discounts on Black Friday (discounting virtually everything), you do not have to follow the herd. Instead, you can launch more narrowly targeted discounts, for example, only discounting a specific product category or a particular product. 

Some companies launch a Black Friday sale on their flagship item, discounting it heavily (think 50% off or more) as a doorbuster deal to bring buzz and more visitors into their stores and to boost the sales of that particular product. Launching a site-wide discount can be a marketing budget burner as it will generate sales that would happen anyways, even without the discount. You could target your promotions more by discounting the slow-moving products or product categories or targeting specific customer segments (for example, new customers only) that would not buy from you without the discount. 

4. Define your promotion limits 

While most businesses do a simple site-wide promotion without limitations, it is wise to add some limits to your Black Friday discounts to protect your budget. For example, you could discount only orders above a specific value or limit the number of promotional products/bundles per customer. You could also allow only one code use per customer if you launch a unique code campaign. There are plenty of options, and you should choose what will meet your sales goal without overspending your budget. 

With an advanced Promotion Engine, like Voucherify, you can quickly set complex combinations of redemption limits.

Validation Rules Builder from Voucherify

5. Choose the discount level you want to offer

You may be asking yourself what the average discount on Black Friday is. Most companies offer discounts that are higher than 20%. The ideal discount level, however, depends on your general pricing strategy. For example, if you never offer discounts, offering even as little as free shipping on Black Friday is a bargain. On the other hand, if you often offer 20-30% promotions, prepare to discount even further on Black Friday. The baseline is to provide more than you do throughout the year to get your customers' hearts pounding faster.

6. Leverage Black Friday data to improve your performance in Q1 of 2024

After the Black Friday rush, analyze the data generated during the event. Gain insights into promotion analytics, customer behavior, popular products, and the effectiveness of different promotions. Utilize Customer Data Platforms such as Bloomreach and Contentful to efficiently collect, organize, and leverage this data. These platforms can provide a comprehensive view of customer interactions across various touchpoints, allowing you to adjust your inventory planning or customer engagement strategy based on the lessons learned from Black Friday.

Moreover, capitalize on the collected data to implement targeted strategies to turn new Black Friday shoppers into loyal customers. Incentivize participation in loyalty programs by crafting personalized campaigns and exclusive offers based on the preferences identified during Black Friday. 

By encouraging shoppers to join loyalty programs, you can boost customer acquisition and foster long-term loyalty – according to Crealytics, CLV for shoppers who become members of loyalty programs during Black Friday sales is 9 times higher than those who opt out of joining clubs.

What promotion types will work best for Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2023?

Inflation forces businesses to run campaigns that keep the brand afloat (despite rising operational costs) and let customers feel taken care of, not taken advantage of. Here are some promotion ideas that might do the trick on BFCM in 2023. 

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1. Personalized promo codes

Brands that don’t pay close attention to their promotion marketing tend to go with site-wide auto-applied promotions with almost no limitations. And truth be told, most BFCM deals are generic and non-targeted. Launching personalized promotions on Black Friday is still not too common, which might make it a winning strategy in 2023. 

By personalizing your offers more, you can look after the most loyal customers – an excellent idea for improving customer relationships while saving on spray-and-pray promo campaigns targeted at price-driven shoppers. 

2. CSR-based campaigns

There has been a big boom in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and charity-oriented BFCM campaigns. It may pay off to jump on that bandwagon, especially if your brand promotes sustainability. 

Some companies refuse to do Black Friday whatsoever because they claim (rightly so) that the BFCM shopping craze is unsustainable. For instance, Deciem even closed its stores (including website) that day. They have, however, launched big sales one month leading up to Black Friday, bringing sales when competitors were not heavily discounting and getting even more media attention and coverage on Black Friday itself.

Deciem Black Friday Campaign from 2021

Remember that you can launch creative campaigns 365 days a year and should consider what is most profitable for your business. The same mindset has led to companies launching recurring Black Fridays in other months. 

3. Loyalty programs

To fight increasing costs, customers focus on loyalty programs, especially those concentrated on savings and everyday purchases. Loyalty programs are a fantastic way to show customers that your brand cares about their needs in difficult times. Such programs are also easy to modify, so your company can rapidly change program rules and rewards to react to market changes and new customer preferences. 

To fight increasing costs, customers focus on loyalty programs, especially those concentrated on savings and everyday purchases. Loyalty programs are a fantastic way to show customers that your brand cares about their needs in difficult times. Such programs are also easy to modify, so your company can rapidly change program rules and rewards to react to market changes and new customer preferences.

Undoubtedly, consumers are more inclined to return to a brand during the BFCM season if they are already enrolled in a loyalty program. Consider launching a dedicated Black Friday promotion for existing loyalty program members. This not only strengthens your relationship with these customers but also optimizes your marketing budget, as loyal members tend to spend more per purchase. 

Another effective strategy is to initiate a special promotion to motivate new sign-ups on Black Friday. For instance, offering an extra 100 loyalty points to everyone joining the program that day, which can be redeemed within the next month on their purchases. You can also promote your loyalty program subscriptions ahead of Black Friday by hinting at a special, mysterious promo reserved solely for loyalty program members, then launch communications exclusively through emails to maintain a sense of exclusivity. 

An exemplary offer of bonus loyalty points for customers who sign up during Black Friday

These measures not only boost Black Friday sales but also foster engagement with your brand and lay the groundwork for personalized promotions in the future, leveraging first-party data collected from logged-in customers.

4. Product bundles

Product bundling is a promotion type where businesses offer several products or services as a package sold at a lower price. It’s a perfect strategy for quickly solving supply chain problems or eliminating surplus stock. Strapped for cash customers are more likely to be attracted by product-based promotions that offer products seemingly for free or at a meager cost.

To move this strategy to the next level, you can run personalized bundles where customers can choose what they want in their promo package from a defined product list or their wishlist, running promotions such as “Choose three X, pay for two”. 

5. Buy more, save more

With customers more aware of prices than ever, running “buy more, save more” campaigns is a no-brainer. By offering this deal, you not only play to customers’ need to save money, but also increase your AOVs by offering a bigger discount for larger orders – a must-have for alleviating logistical problems. 

6. Time-sensitive deals

Amidst the challenges posed by inflation and the heightened expectations of Black Friday/Cyber Monday, incorporating time-sensitive deals into your campaign strategy can create a sense of urgency, driving customer engagement.

Introduce limited-time offers, such as flash sales and exclusive discounts with countdown timers to amplify the excitement surrounding your BFCM promotions. This not only captivates the attention of cost-conscious consumers but also addresses the impact of inflation by providing immediate value.

7. Free shipping

Given the current landscape where shipping costs are rising in 2023, free shipping has become an even more significant perk than just a few years ago. This makes leveraging the power of free shipping a particularly compelling promotion during BFCM season.

Everybody knows Black Friday shopping most likely means extended delivery dates due to the large order volume. Recognizing this tendency, offering expedited shipping for free can be an additional enticing perk. Emphasize the value of not only cost savings but also quicker delivery, addressing the common concern of waiting for products to arrive during peak season.

An exemplary view of a free shipping promotion carried out during Black Friday

Summary

In difficult times, meeting your customers halfway is key. Strapped for cash customers can react to inflation in three ways: choose cheaper alternatives, reduce consumption, or change their purchasing pattern completely. By knowing where your customers are, you can easily predict what types of offers will resonate with them best. 

To adjust to the new reality, you should discard current segmentation filters and use new ones – based on product preferences, behavior, and price sensitivity. Other things on your Black Friday/Cyber Monday checklists should include asking customers about their new attitudes, considering price increases twice, and revisiting your pricing strategy to find an optimal solution to keep your brand and customers happy. 

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