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How to create success on Black Friday: Offer genuine value

How to create success on Black Friday: Offer genuine value

With the holiday season quickly approaching, there’s no better time to discuss one of retail's biggest events: Black Friday.

A day filled with marked-down items and restless shoppers, the event has a long history with consumer-facing brands. But in recent years, many consumers have grown frustrated with Black Friday deals from large retailers.

Consumers’ needs are growing, and they aren’t afraid to express them. The pressure is mounting for brands to make consumers happy.

So, how can you can do just that?

Sophia King, Head of Marketing at Mention Me, a referral-marketing platform for B2C brands, sat down with us to discuss consumer expectations, the psychology of word-of-mouth marketing and what brands can expect from Black Friday in the coming years.

The social psychology behind Black Friday

To understand how your brand can satisfy customers on this Black Friday, as well as those in the future, it's helpful to take a look at the social psychology behind the event. 

“With Black Friday, there’s very much this psychological sense of urgency, and it goes hand-in-hand with [referral marketing],” King said. “If I want to go out and get a really good deal on a TV, I’m going to ask the people I know, and equally if someone asks me, I’ll be psychologically inclined to give them the best recommendation because otherwise, I risk making myself look bad.”

And it's not just about the recommendations — it's also about the psychological pull to engage in the same activities as everyone around you. 

Each of these comes down to social proof, the brain science that compels consumers to trust certain brands, read online reviews and ask for recommendations on a good Black Friday deal. It's the same psychology that drives many Black Friday purchases as well. When consumer see others in line, they can feel the need to do the same.

 Consumer resources for navigating Black Friday

As Black Friday has evolved, so have the ways in which consumers are navigating it. They’ve learned not only to rely on conversations with friends and family but online resources as well. 

“Fifteen years ago, before online shopping was an everyday thing, you see 10% off in a store and think, ‘Great, I’ve got a good deal.’ Whereas now, there are websites now that are dedicated to showing if a Black Friday deal is genuine or if that company just marked it up the week before so they could pretend they dropped it massively,” said King. “Consumers are smart, and they won’t return to a brand if they aren’t getting a good deal.” 

Resources like this are especially important, because so many retailers are offering deals on similar products. Between those and the amount of marketing messages being sent today, it can be difficult for consumers to figure out which option is best.

King says this is when referrals come in handy.

“People know Black Friday is a good opportunity to get a bargain, and with so much of it being online, it’s easy to type in what you want and see all the different places offering it and for how much; that’s where the inundation piece really comes in because it can become really overwhelming,” said King. “If I’ve got 20 different brands all selling me the item I want and it’s hard to see what’s cheaper because of shipping costs or other added fees, it feels like a very natural human reaction to ask others for help.”

The key to success

While Black Friday only dates back 70-plus years, the psychology it thrives on has been around even longer. King says keeping this in mind can help brands better understand how the deals during Black Friday they offer will impact consumer behavior.

“Black Friday is very quickly evolving, both in how consumers are perceiving it and how brands need to address it in order to acquire shoppers full-stop and shoppers who will keep coming back rather than get a bargain and never return,” said King. “I think the consumer appetite for Black Friday remains strong across sectors, but if brands aren’t offering genuine value consumers will recognize that and tell their friends.” 

Black Friday has gained much of its success due to the ample deals and conversations it encourages. As consumer expectations for the holiday grow, brands must stay true to what brought Black Friday success in the first place — the chance to offer consumers genuine value. 


Picture of Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener is a brand journalist for Quikly. She covers stories that help to inform and educate consumer-facing marketers.

Picture of Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener is a brand journalist for Quikly. She covers stories that help to inform and educate consumer-facing marketers.