As the sales season approaches, many brands will find themselves at a crossroads, torn between the traditional discount-driven approach and the desire to stay true to their brand values. In this article, we delve into why some merchants might want to opt out of the discount frenzy and explore alternative strategies that drive sales and reinforce brand loyalty.
Large-scale sales events, like Black Friday / Cyber Monday, have taken commerce by storm. What once started as an American-driven holiday has become a global event, with almost every brand participating in some capacity. However, over the past few years there has been a greater consumer focus on sustainability, a global recession, and more brand loyalty than ever before – in response, brands are rethinking their approach to sales. Rather than big blanket discounts and offloading old stock, merchants prioritize strategies that will boost customer lifetime value. Here’s how.
Loyalty programs provide a perfect solution to get involved in large sales like Black Friday without devaluing your products with blanket discounts.
If you’re a luxury brand, this one’s for you. Large discounts can devalue some brands and their products, but the alternative of not being involved in sales like BFCM could result in customers shopping with competitors. To make sure you’re still connecting with your customer base and maintaining the strong value of your brand, you can instead, offer tailored loyalty promotions for your most dedicated customers, fostering a sense of exclusivity.
Short term change, long term gains
For a short period of time, increasing the number of loyalty points per purchase can help you avoid discounting entirely while still rewarding your customers, and keeping your brand top of mind when customers are in the ‘purchase’ mindset. Offering increased loyalty points can also encourage future, intentful purchases as opposed to discount driven purchases that often result in high returns.
For a limited time only…
Leverage sales events to increase your customer base through referrals. By running a promotion such as "for a limited time only, refer a friend and get £10 off your next purchase" you can avoid discounting products, while still rewarding your existing customers and helping you secure new customers.
If you do want to offer discounts, giving secret codes to your most loyal customers can get you in on the sales action without impacting the value of your brand. This approach ensures that the discount is extended only to those committed to your brand, reinforcing the exclusivity associated with high-end products, making your customers feel valued and appreciated, and fostering a sense of loyalty beyond the sales season.
Building community and connection
Many merchants get involved in BFCM because they don’t want to miss out – they run a discount-based promotion across the site to ensure they’re involved but in doing so, leave tons of opportunity on the table. Black Friday and Boxing Day sales are not just about slashing prices – they can play a unique role in your customer acquisition, loyalty and growth strategy. By using community tools like social media, hosting events, and employing personalized communication, businesses can go beyond transactional relationships and build a vibrant community that provides long-term benefits, including:
- Increased brand loyalty: Customers who feel connected to a brand are more likely to return for future purchases and become brand advocates.
- A powerful marketing force: It’s very common for customers to share their experiences, positive or negative, with their network. So, dedicate attention to creating exceptional experiences that stand out, and you’ll reap the benefits.
- A valuable feedback source: By actively engaging with customers, you can gain insights into preferences, expectations, and areas for improvement. Understanding if your customers enjoyed your BFCM offers, or whether they felt it didn’t fit their perception of your brand is instrumental in refining products and services and future sales season activities.
- A loyal community provides a solid foundation for sustainable growth, and large-scale sales events like BFCM are a perfect opportunity to build and grow a dedicated community. As customer retention increases, you can focus on expanding your offerings, entering new markets, and confidently navigating the competitive landscape.
Using social platforms to promote community
On the run-up to sales events like Black Friday, you can leverage platforms like TikTok and Instagram to create a sense of anticipation and excitement. Engaging content, sneak peeks, and countdowns can spark conversations among followers and engage new visitors.
Example: Hosting Instagram and TikTok live sessions or leveraging UGC, asking your loyal customer base to share their wishlist items on TikTok, and tagging your brand.
Pop-ups and events
Hosting online or in-person events during the sales season can elevate the customer experience and deepen community bonds. Whether it's a virtual launch party, an exclusive in-store event, or a collaborative pop-up, these experiences create memorable moments and act as an alternative to discounts.
Tailoring communication to individual customers adds a personal touch that goes a long way in building brand affinity. Utilize customer data to send personalized emails and messages to your community of customers with the loyalty program discount codes we discussed earlier. This also works particularly well if you sell consumable goods that need replacing frequently; if you’re a coffee merchant, for instance, consider sending out a personalized email for a deal on the beans a customer buys regularly.
Sustainable and ethical practices
Traditionally associated with overconsumption and environmental impact, big sales events like Black Friday and Boxing Day have also become an opportunity for sustainable and ethical brands to showcase their commitment to responsible practices. You can use Black Friday to solidify your brand identity by opting out of conventional discount-driven strategies.
Brands committed to sustainability can leverage Black Friday as a platform for education. Rather than participating in traditional discounting, you can use this day to communicate your values and mission through the content you share across social media platforms and your website. This content can be educational, for example brands like Patagonaia promote their care & repair service which encourages customers to get their old items repaired rather than purchasing new products. Other brands share projects and initiatives that consumers can get involved in through their site, while some educate consumers on the climate crisis and the impact of Black Friday. All of these alternatives reinforce brand perception.
Some sustainable brands do participate in Black Friday but instead of the usual sales, they offer creative discounts that align with their ethical values. For example, second-hand clothing giant Depop embraced the concept by providing a percentage reduction on items sold across the platform. This encourages consumers to make conscious choices and opt for pre-loved items instead of contributing to the fast-fashion cycle. Alternatively you can encourage charitable donations over BFCM by pledging to donate a percentage of sales to charitable causes. For example, for every product sold on Black Friday, a percentage of the sales, or an additional +% are donated to a specific environmental or social cause.
For more tips on making e-commerce more socially conscious check out our article on the topic!
Sales season is no longer confined to a race for discounts – it’s become a stage for brands to redefine their narratives. Regardless of what size your brand is, the industry you operate or your mission and identity, you can find benefits in adopting some of the strategies we’ve mentioned, stepping out of the noise of sales and honing in on what makes your business unique. Reach out to our expert team who can help you get set up for the rest of sales season and in to 2024.