Black Friday is always on the Friday after American Thanksgiving and fell on the 26th of November this year. Originally, Black Friday was an American tradition that started with New York’s apartment store “Macy’s” in the early 1900s. More recently, however, Black Friday has spread across the world and is very popular due to its characteristic low prices. This leads one to question how it is possible for Black Friday to still be so profitable for retailers.
Loss Leader Marketing
Loss Leader Marketing is a marketing tool that businesses use to gain brand loyalty and to attract new customers, especially on Black Friday. The strategy behind loss leader marketing is that customers are incentivized to enter a store through the promotion of a special discounted item. This discounted item is placed toward the back of the store so that customers walk past many other products (these often aren’t discounted) in order to reach the product. Customers often end up buying more than just the discounted item, which means that the total sales of all the products make up for the loss the store incurs through the discounted item. Consumable items — items with higher margins that are repeatedly purchased — are often marketed using this loss leader marketing strategy.
For example, the retail giant Costco has established a reputation as being a low-price distributor among consumers. Costco achieved this reputation by selling some discounts on items such as gasoline, food, and in-store items. This brand image means that consumers often first think of Costco when considering whether or not to make a purchase, which increases the total sales Costco makes.
Price Discrimination Strategies
Price discrimination is another marketing strategy that aims to make use of the various amounts consumers are willing and able to pay. In a retailer’s perfect world, every consumer would pay the maximum amount they are willing to pay for the product, meaning that producer surplus is maximised. This marketing strategy is also used on Black Friday by retailers to break into new markets and draw in new consumers. Companies may price discriminate by setting their products at different prices in different stores, depending on the income of people who are most likely to pass that store.
2021’s Black Friday
Early observations have revealed that there were most likely fewer people out physically shopping on Black Friday in 2021 than in previous years. Instead, more and more people seem to opt to shop online instead. The National Retail Federation predicted an increase in sales between 8.5% and 10.5% from 2020 while early data from Mastercard Spending Pulse revealed that Black Friday sales may have actually been up by 12.1% in the US.
Due to COVID-19, fewer and fewer consumers are shopping in physical stores and many have switched to online retailers instead. This is bad news for smaller firms who cannot compete with “super-retailers” like Amazon. As there is a shift towards online retail, shopping bots have also become more and more popular among consumers to ensure that they will be able to get a pair of those rare sneakers. Finally, there has also been a trend in recent years to not limit Black Friday Deals just to Black Friday. Increasingly, more and more retailers are offering Black Friday discounts much earlier, some as early as October.
- https://econreview.berkeley.edu/how-can-sales-of-more-than-50-be-profitable-even-just-for-a-day/ (Accessed 5 December 2021)
- https://www.protocol.com/black-friday-shopping-trends-covid (Accessed 6 December 2021)
- https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/26/black-friday-2021-live-updates-latest-news-sales-and-deals.html (Accessed 6 December 2021)