Business News Thoughts

Turning Black Friday flings into long, fruitful customer relationships

It’s that time of the year when arguably the world’s biggest retail shopping spree of the year takes off: Black Friday. Over the years, the one-day-only event has morphed into a weekend special and soon-to-be bumper month-long shopping bonanza.   

From a retail and e-commerce standpoint, cashing in on consumer appetite to splash out on big deals just before the festive season makes total business sense. In 2019, seemingly cash-strapped South Africans spent R6 billion on Black Friday – a whopping 33% year-on-year growth from 2018 – while Cyber Monday garnered a 42% growth in online transactions in the same year, ending on a total of 249 908 (up from 176 595 in 2018).

These are the type of figures that business bigwigs get excited about – all that’s needed is to jump on the Black Friday bandwagon, brandish a selection of specials in front of shopaholics and credit-fuelled customers and you could be laughing all the way to the bank. Overheads, staff overtime and website downtime may go through the roof, but making a quick buck is all worth it, right?

Wrong. Here’s why Black Friday is not all that it’s hyped up to be:

When Black Friday comes around, a business’s worst customers become their most prized customers virtually overnight. Businesses tend to invest heavily in low-value customers, with the hopes that doing so will rake in sales volumes equal to or exceeding those of high-value customers. The reality is that instead of enjoying ongoing relationships with loyal customers who make multiple purchases throughout the year, year-on-year, businesses ride their luck on low-margin purchases made by shoppers who are likely to go for specials and only shop again this time next year.

Consumer behaviour today is very different from when Black Friday first became a thing. People are more conscious about consumption – they’re basing their buying decisions on whether a brand and its offering align with their lifestyles, and are equally focused on the value they get out of a product and service. If a consumer feels that their needs are being satisfied and their well-being is being looked after 24/7/365, they won’t feel the urge to spend unnecessarily on things they don’t actually need, on a once-off shopping event.

So, how does a business go from ‘weekend special’ to ‘lifetime provider’ in the eyes of the consumer? When you anticipate customers’ needs by offering unique benefits and unrivalled customer service, not only are you adding value to their lives beyond transactions, but you are also building solid customer relationships and brand affinity that go beyond once-off purchases.  

See more in our ‘All-year-round vs Black Friday’ infographic below