Black Friday has long been the mainstay of the brick-and-mortar holiday season. This year, online research organization comScore reported that the digital side of Black Friday is booming, too. Black Friday online spending hit the $1 billion mark for the first time and pushed onward, a more than 25 percent jump from 2011.
In addition to the sharp jump in Black Friday online action, the comScore study unveiled several other interesting facts. From the beginning of November to Black Friday, the holiday season took in $13.7 billion in online spending, a 16 percent increase. Thanksgiving Day, typically a quieter shopping period when families spend time together rather than shop, saw $636 million in online sales, a 31 percent increase. Brick-and-mortar sales, on the other hand, fell slightly.
“Despite the frenzy of media coverage surrounding the importance of Black Friday in the brick-and-mortar world, we continue to see this shopping day become more and more prominent in the e-commerce channel – particularly among those who prefer to avoid crowds at the stores,” said comScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni. “With Black Friday online sales up 26 percent and surpassing $1 billion for the first time, coupled with early reports indicating that Black Friday sales in retail stores were down 1.8 percent, we can now confidently call it a multi-channel marketing phenomenon.”
Amazon was the online retail winner for Black Friday, followed by Walmart and Best Buy. Apple ranked the fifth most visited site.
Choose Your Device – As Long as It’s a Tablet
Content marketers were quick to pinpoint where many of the extra sales originated. No surprise, 16 percent of total purchases made on Black Friday came from mobile devices like phones and tablets, with the iPad taking up the majority of Black Friday use. The National Retail Federation also reported that 20 million shoppers were planning on using mobile devices to access deals on Cyber Monday, too.
In previous years the idea of sharing a purchase or posting a deal on a social network site was strange for many consumers. Now that sharing through mobile devices is easier than ever and consumers are more comfortable combining shopping and social media, it is possible to create conversations by posting about a discount or purchase itself.
The rise of the tablet also allows companies to be more inventive in the types of Black Friday information they give consumers. Birchbox went beyond product advertising and offered a guide on buying low-cost gifts for customers shopping for a deal. Modcloth used their blog to invite “guest gifters” and other personalities to write articles about their personal gift ideas and what works best for their lifestyles. Both options are easy reads and ideal for casual mobile use.
A Digital Content World
While all online sales did well, comScore uncovered that some online retail categories fared better than others. The biggest winner was digital content. Copyright infringement aside, product sales of digital books, music, and videos outgrew all other categories, increasing 29 percent from 2011 to 2012. Toys, consumer packaged goods, and electronics all grew as well, but none beat the rise of digital content.
For marketers, this means that consumers are now more atuned to receiving their content digitally. Posting videos on social media sites and providing email links to multimedia clips is now an acceptable (and frequently more entertaining) way to spread the news about Black Friday deals. For example, Old Navy’s Cheermageddon videos spread through viral video lists in the days leading up to Black Friday – mostly because of their quirky spoof-like atmosphere and entertainment value. Many of the most popular Black Friday videos were grassroots movements created by fans and bloggers with a focus on personal experience.
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