Black Friday—Beyond the Hype

 In Business

Black Friday seems to be as fully ingrained in the Thanksgiving holiday tradition as turkey and football. But what exactly is going on in the minds of consumers on that much-talked about morning after? It’s critical for marketers to understand consumers’ attitudes and behaviors to guide their marketing strategies.

We surveyed more than 1,000 people from across the United States and, as it turns out, Black Friday isn’t for everyone. While more than half of all Americans say they often or always shop Black Friday, about 16% say they avoid the shopping frenzy at all costs. The most enthusiastic Black Friday shoppers are those 18-34 (Gen Z and younger Millennials). The least enthusiastic are the 68% of those age 55+ who rarely shop on Black Friday or avoid it at all costs.

So, Who’s Leaving the House?

Looking ahead to actual shopping plans for the upcoming Black Friday 2023, three of every four consumers say they plan to take part in Black Friday Shopping in some way, shape, or form (hmmmm…that’s notably higher than the 50+% who say they typically always or often shop it—a case of intentions vs. follow through perhaps?). However, a sizable portion (37%) will skip the checkout lines and instead head for online shopping only. This proportion is relatively similar across age groups. Notably, 18-34-year olds are more likely than other age groups to double dip and shop both online and in person.

Where Are Shoppers Getting Information?

When it comes to getting info about Black Friday deals, top sources of information are fairly evenly distributed, with 5 sources all playing a primary role:

  • social media
  • brand websites
  • word of mouth from friends and family
  • TV/radio ads,
  • newspaper ads/store circulars

It pays for marketers to make sure their brand has a presence on social media, as the 18-34 Gen Z and younger Millennials who are the most gung-ho about the Black Friday experience are relying on this medium more than others.

Last But Not Least, Why Are Shoppers Doing It?

Black Friday is serious business not only for retailers but for consumers as well. The main reasons people give for shopping Black Friday? They’re on a mission to find a specific item they’re interested in at a good price or they are browsing for good deals. The minority of shoppers are doing it for the entertainment value of the experience.

The good news for marketers: A significant proportion of consumers (39%) feel Black Friday brings an opportunity to take advantage of really good deals, as opposed to being just hype.

What Does This All Mean for Marketers?

Black Friday isn’t just a one-size-fits-all shopping spree—it’s a dynamic experience shaped by diverse motivations and preferences. For companies to ace the marketing game, they need to build communications that motivate both mission-driven and browsing-driven consumers, take into account the channels and info sources used by different age groups, and ensure that what they deliver goes beyond just hype. Giving thought to how to inspire those who do avoid Black Friday at all costs or consider it just hype can also drive creative new strategies and attract a new type of Black Friday consumer.

Data sourced from the Russell Research Omnibus Survey fielded in November 2023 among 1,000 US adults.

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