Black Friday and the Failed Customer Experience

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You’re tired of it too, right? Black Friday sales with messages like, ‘Don’t wait, Don’t miss out, Hurry up, Limited styles, Limited quantities,’ leaving you confused about how Halloween came and went, and worrying about all those Thanksgiving leftovers in your fridge. Only to realize, ‘Wait, it’s the beginning of October, retailers need to calm down.’

Black Friday, a holiday originating in the United States in the 1950’s, now has adoption around the globe. That’s good news for holiday shoppers who want to maximize their purchasing power through discounted merchandise, or at least you’d think so.

The now-annual tradition has devolved into a confusing, multi-month-long promotional campaign. And in that descent, it has lost its original intent. What was once a day of retailers adding value to their customers’ experiences through holiday savings is now about maximizing retailers’ revenue – for a longer and longer period of time.

With all the fervor around Black “Friday”, and the expansive list of actual days that surround it, where do we find customers? This shopping phenomena has completely lost the customer thread, eroding trust in brands. Customers and employees – the bedrock of your customer experience – are metaphorically (and literally, for that matter) dying, along the way.

Customers are Disappointed

Black Friday is engineered to leave a portion of customers disappointed in the outcomes of their shopping experience. Retailers list the most desirable items at a deep discount, which drives foot traffic yet leads to a shortage as demand outweighs supply. Customers who weren’t able to get their hands on the season’s latest and greatest have to settle for their next best option, amidst an angry mob of shoppers.

“Discounts” Create a Lack of Trust

In a year when consumers feel pressure on their personal finances due to high costs of living and inflation, they’re paying closer attention to prices. A 2019 study conducted by Which?, a consumer research group, found that 83 items on sale during Black Friday were cheaper or available at the same price at other times of the year. Consumers who realize that Black Friday “deals” aren’t really deals, can erode trust in a brand.

Black Friday Doesn’t Breed Loyal Customers

You got customers in the door, and they may or may not have gotten what they wanted at a  price that may or may not have been the best. How valuable is that customer? According to a study fielded by Shopify, 64% of retailers say the customers acquired over the Black Friday weekend have a lower lifetime value than customers acquired at any other time of the year.

Seems like it’s time to rethink, no? Is your business too reliant on the revenue influx to make a change? As tough as it may be, the long term benefit of an overhaul is clearly in our collective sights. Buy Nothing Days and #OptOutside are evidence of the change to come. It starts with a well planned, omni-channel customer relationship for your business, along with a true commitment to experience above all. This holistic worldview will lead to better outcomes for both the customer and the business in time. We’re ready to have our holidays back for the relationships and relaxation they once represented!

  1. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/why-black-friday-leads-shoppers-to-behave-bonkers
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2023/09/22/how-to-prepare-for-black-friday-and-cyber-monday/?sh=3e6397e46623
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/nov/26/black-friday-uk-discounts-genuine-which
  4. https://www.retailcustomerexperience.com/blogs/black-friday-taking-advantage-of-high-consumer-engagement-for-future-wins/
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