Where are supermarkets in the Black Friday mix?

November 23, 2011

Shoppers sharpen their elbows for Black Friday, but do these promotions have lasting benefits for retailers?

The Black Friday push into Thanksgiving night begs some mock questions for seasonal bargain hunters:  Should they eat less turkey because the tryptophan might make them sleepy? Should they drink caffeine beverages to be energetic and maximize savings at 12:01 in the morning?   

In retailers’ race to be first and reap shopper dollars while they’re still available, they set Black Friday promotions that create shopper frenzy, yet seem to have no measurable objectives beyond dollar sales. A Black Friday preview issued by ECRM suggests retailers don’t ask some of the most basic questions they normally do about trade-event performance.  

A few examples:  Do my Black Friday promotions drive sales for my non-promoted products? Are they less profitable than other promotions? Do they attract new shoppers? Do these new shoppers have a positive experience? Do these promotions build measurable loyalty? Do they lift sales for a day or throughout the season?

What’s worse for most supermarkets, predicts ECRM, is that they won’t even be in the game: “Although supermarkets have the registers, parking lots and manpower to promote Door-Busters, most will sit on the sidelines without considering the possibility of selling anything outside of grocery and HBC categories. Meanwhile, other retail channels are expanding their food assortment.”

One plus for supermarkets, however, will be low food share at mass merchandisers, adds ECRM, because supermarkets offer fewer crowds and a wider selection of recipe ingredients.

Other Black Friday forecast highlights include:
•    A large increase in offer with reward points or dollars to apply towards future purchases because (a) they drive trips, (b) many go unredeemed, and (c) competitors usually don’t price-match them.
•    Hot deals on Black Friday could potentially marginalize Cyber Monday.
•    Black Friday events will start earlier and won’t be limited to a single day.
•    Shoppers may be frustrated by vague price-matching policies.
•    Black Friday will present an opportunity to demonstrate timely, relevant and efficient promotions through social media—but Facebook won’t capitalize on it as a sales tool.