The Mobile-Centric Shopper: Understanding Black Friday Retail Behavior

[fa icon="calendar"] 11/22/16 10:37 AM / by Sarah Din

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With Black Friday looming, marketers are working to reach their target audience with a last minute push. With smartphone usage exploding, marketers can no longer rely on one channel, medium or device to help reach their audience. This year, it’s more important than ever to connect online to offline--across all devices.

Analyzing past online and offline behavioral data is a critical step in creating a marketing plan, which is why we recently joined forces with Research Now to create a new methodology to integrate cross-device data collection and understand a shopper’s path to purchase.

A Black Friday study was conducted using this new methodology with Research Now and ID graph panel (detailed below). We selected a sample size of 40,000 panelists and opened a new range of insight opportunities during the biggest sale of the year.

 


DEVICE ID COLLECTION

Device ID collection relies on algorithms and machine learning systems as well as an actual data collection stream to make a prediction match to help pair shoppers to their devices. Research Now has developed a new pool of panelists who can be targeted using their device ids. This approach is known as creating an identity (ID) graph. Effectively the ID graph created enables the capability to target opted-in users for surveys, and/or report on their behavior.

It’s important to note that these IDs can also be correlated to other IDs (such as online cookies), enabling us to unlock insights and behaviors across devices. The ability to target surveys based on specific geo requirements refine the measurement of brand funnel ROI and connect the multiple media touchpoints on shopper behaviour in both the online and the physical world.


 

The study, conducted from November 23 to December 4, 2015, found the following:

There’s a large opportunity for brands to reach consumers in-store, the day of Black Friday

Our Black Friday study has consistently shown a pattern in how people plan for and shop on this day--and we’ve found that despite brand's marketing efforts ahead of time, there’s still an opportunity to engage with shoppers on the actual day of the sale. In fact, 6 out of 10 survey respondents confirmed they had made unplanned purchases on Black Friday.

 

Consumers are growing increasingly digital, and it’s important to adjust strategy accordingly

Over the past decade, physical store traffic has been directly competing with online and mobile retailers. The competition is especially fierce on Black Friday since it’s increasingly more compelling for shoppers to buy a product in the comfort of their own home, rather than overly crowded stores. Hence, the growing success of Cyber Monday--in 2015, online sales reached a record-breaking $3 billion.

However, online wasn’t the only channel to break a record last year. Mobile raked in $799 million on Cyber Monday, proving the growing importance of cementing an m-commerce strategy. With the stakes so high this holiday season and potential so great for ground-breaking sales, it’s crucial for marketers to find their voice and understand how, when and where to connect with shoppers.  And one of the most powerful ways for marketers to connect with shoppers is to ensure the right message when they are nearby. It’s important to create a dynamic brand strategy that not only reaches your audience via the appropriate channel, but with engaging and relevant content.

 

On Black Friday, store visits vary across different retailers.

Black Friday consistently brings the high traffic to brick and mortar stores. However, with the new methodology, we were able to include a much larger sample size to distinguish traffic across 20 different retailers.  The findings show store visits vary widely depending upon retailer type--not just on Black Friday, but throughout that entire weekend.

Interestingly, The North Face had the highest traffic peak on the Saturday after Black Friday, when the other tested retailers saw a surge in traffic. This proves each brand is different and behaviors are driven by a variety of factors from loyalty to discounts to media placements.

 

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Source: Black Friday Shopping study: Each store visit is different. The vertical lines indicate the Black Friday visit which typically should be the highest peak. Each retailer on this graph shows different lines indicating the individual store traffic.

 

Every brand can, and should, have their own behavior graph as shown above. These graphs and other measurement tools are useful throughout the year--especially leading up to Black Friday--to understand how to influence shopper behavior based on pattern. All media touch points should be tied together to create a dynamic, seamless shopping experience.

 

There’s an opportunity for more targeted messages

The precision of marketing communication starts and ends with shopper demographics and timing. Hence, It’s important to know when to market higher ticket items and when to push the message to shoppers looking to purchase. And while it’s easy to physically count brick and mortar traffic and distinguish between gender and age, it’s much harder to determine household income when a shopper walks through the door--and income is a strong determinant in high priced items.

To help with this, we’ve created a couple of benchmarking tools using demographic profiles appended from Research Now panelists along with their geo-visitation data.

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Perhaps the most interesting (and surprising) finding shows that shoppers who earn $150,000-200,000 per year shop at Walmart on Black Friday--more so than the days leading up to and following Black Friday. Knowing this information, Walmart can tailor messaging towards the higher income shoppers.

There are many more examples based on our robust sample size that can lead to creative ideas on how to best prepare for a sale like Black Friday. For example, Walmart could target the more affluent shoppers the morning of Black Friday and less affluent demographics on Thanksgiving evening. This type of intel could also help with store logistics like stocking inventory or creating specials throughout the day.

All in all, connecting the online to offline world is critical and reveals helpful insight as stated above. With more data and benchmarking tools, it’s becoming increasingly easier to understand shopper behavior in the real world, and ultimately create a better shopper experience as a result of more targeted marketing efforts.


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Written by Sarah Din

Sarah is the Director of Marketing at Placececast. Placecast is the industry's leading enterprise-grade platform for data management and display advertising. From managing millions of mobile user profiles and locations for clients, to delivering audience and location-targeted mobile ad campaigns, Placecast has been trusted globally by several Fortune 100 companies such as AT&T, Rogers, Visa, O2 Telefonica, and has created over 400 Million unique mobile user profiles utilizing billions of mobile data attributes.