Despite recent suggestions that UK retailers consider Black Friday to be unprofitable, many seem to be ramping up efforts this year - even extending the event to an entire two weeks.

Here’s a look at how six UK brands are honing in on bargain-hungry consumers.

AO.com

AO saw record sales figures from Black Friday 2015, and by the looks of it, it is banking on a repeat performance this year.

Instead of simply focusing on Black Friday (and Cyber Monday), it is selling all week-long.

By describing the deals launched before Friday as 'earlybird', it sounds as though prices will drop further or more deals will appear as the week goes on - annoyingly, this is a little unclear.

Regardless, it is promoting pretty heavily across social media, even going so far as creating its very own 'Black Friday Survival Guide' for consumers.

Despite last year's success, it has been suggested that Black Friday cannibalised AO sales from Christmas and New Year.

However, with consumers being more likely to search for larger household goods now, we doubt it's much of a concern.

Argos

Argos isn't beating around the bush this year, extending its Black Friday event to a mammoth 13 days.

Instead of counting down to the best deals, it is using a 'buy now' price promise to reassure customers that offers won't go lower until the entire event ends.

However, when they're gone - they're gone.

Not stopping there - it is also using the additional tactic of bonus discounts, such as 25% off when you spend a certain amount on an item.

With feverish promotion on Twitter, and one of the longest events out of all UK retailers, Argos could be in danger of alienating uninterested followers or cannibalising those Christmas sales at reduced prices.

House of Fraser 

With sales up 40% last year compared to 2014, the event has traditionally been a success for House of Fraser.

Once again it looks intent on capturing search interest around Black Friday - it has even optimised its H1 to incorporate the phrase.

(Read more on how retailers are optimising landing pages here)

With healthy sales figures post-Black Friday last year, the department store's strong promotion appears to be effective.

Running for six days, it is offering up to 50% off selected lines as well as new deals specifically for Cyber Monday.

The event hasn't overtaken all its current promotion either - it is still talking about Christmas and unrelated editorial content online - which means it's avoiding instilling the fear of 'buy now or never' into loyal customers.

Body Shop

The Body Shop is promoting its 'wildest Black Friday yet' with a special 'bundle' deal.

It allows users to get a selection of products worth £93.50 for just £35.

It's a surprisingly enticing deal - in just one click of a button, all products will be automatically added to your basket with the discount applied.

Alternatively, consumers can take advantage of the 40% off code in the run up to Friday, when an abundance of top deals are expected to land.

A retailer that tends to rely on loyal and regular shoppers as well as seasonal gift buyers - opting in to Black Friday is likely to be a positive move, as long as it doesn't overshadow the Christmas rush.

River Island

River Island's Black Friday landing page has some confusing copy telling shoppers that they are a 'little too early' to find deals, despite the fact it does appear to be partaking in the earlybird trend (a week of 'style steals').

Using daily deals in each category and the 'limited time only' tactic, it could whet customers appetites for the big day itself.

Or, it could end up being a bit of a disappointment.

Regardless, with Black Friday traditionally being seen as a way to get discounted technology and household items - it's interesting to see more clothing retailers take part.

Boots

Recognising that consumers are put-off shopping in-store during Black Friday madness, Boots is cleverly using an online-only tactic.

Of course, there are in-store offers, however it is keeping a fairly hefty percentage for ecommerce orders.

Building on the opportunity to capture online customer data - it's a good tactic for a retailer that is better known for its physical presence on the high street and travel retail stores.

Lastly, with excitement over its Christmas gift range generally beginning in December, it is using the sales bonanza as a nice jump off for festive-related advertising.

Final points

While they are using some of the most interesting tactics, the aforementioned examples make up a mere snapshot of the retailers partaking in Black Friday 2016.

Of course, there are those that are choosing to opt-out, such as Next and Asda, but most do seem to be getting in on the act.

The main question is whether customers will embrace this year's trend for extended sales, or whether it will truly be overkill.

Similarly, with questions raised over whether Black Friday deals are actually worth buying, it remains to be seen how consumers will respond.

Let the madness commence.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 24 November, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (1)

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Matt Lovell, Head of Customer Insight at Jack Wills

Interesting article Nikki with a nice selection of examples.

I think the thing that is noticeable if you look at most UK brands though is while probably 60-70% of them are doing something to promote Black Friday (from just referencing it to full on page / site takeovers), for most, the offers aren't that dissimilar to what they were promoting before this week (or for that matter what they will be promoting after next week).

As a result, it begs the question of whether Black Friday is nothing more than another seasonal 'event' in the same way as these same brands go to time on promoting things for Christmas, Valentines Day, Easter or even April Fools Day.

The last link is also really pertinent here as unfortunately as much as the ASA tries, it's very difficult to police online promotions so how do we ensure that consumers aren't mislead and simply led to believe that an offer is good / better than is was previously...

12 months ago

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