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The US tradition of post-Thanksgiving shopping, named Black Friday to mark the day when retailers move from the red into the black, has caught on rapidly across the world. From South Africa to Singapore, households are embracing the promise of discounts on big-ticket items. The rise in broadband access, smart-phone social media and globalisation of retail brands have combined to spread the Black Friday mantra, while the increase in household space is driving more purchases of durables and furniture. This article is part of a series that will highlight key trends from Euromonitor’s “The Drivers and Opportunities of Changing Household Size” strategy briefing.
The key to unlocking the cross-cultural phenomenon of Black Friday shopping has been internet access. Over 2010-2015, the proportion of global households with access to broadband has increased from just under a third to almost half. Social media and email marketing have carried the simple message of savings to millions of homes, and consumers find it convenient to have a set shopping date for their needs.
International online retailers have piggy-backed on this digital evolution to get access to households directly. US retailer Amazon and China’s equivalent Alibaba have driven savvy online marketing campaigns to entice shoppers. Amazon, in particular, started an aggressive push for Black Friday in Europe in 2010, and the event is now the biggest shopping date in France and the UK.
The “sofashopping” (browsing deals on your smart phone at home) trend has taken this further, with consumers increasingly not associating Black Friday with any retailer in particular, but happy to search for deals as they come up. In the top five Black Friday markets worldwide (USA, UK, Brazil, Canada and Romania), the Black Friday event has dominated online search queries over searches on particular retailers, according to trade sources. In South Africa, there were over 18,000 mentions of Black Friday tracked on the day itself via social media platforms in 2015, compared to 6,000 mentions the previous year.
The growing capability of online payments has further fortified the lure of set-day internet shopping. The impact has been particularly strong in Africa, where banking adoption remains weak and many households rely on mobile wallet and digital currencies to pay for goods over the web. Egypt’s online store Edfa3ly.com, Kenya’s online mall Kilimall and South Africa’s Checkers retail store have encouraged consumers to use payment methods such as M-Pesa to purchase goods during Black Fridays.
Over the 1990-2030 period, households with five or more rooms will see the fastest growth globally. At the same time, the number of inhabitants per household is in decline across almost every country in the world. This translates to more space per inhabitant, and thus greater territory to furnish or equip with household products. Coupled with ever-easier access to and choice of durables, consumers are equipping their homes with a more diverse and advanced range of appliances and durables to fit out their expanding homes.
This demographic trend has direct links to the Black Friday movement, as households are increasingly targeting this day in order to make maximum savings on high-cost, big-ticket items such as TVs, refrigerators, cookers and washing machines. According to Amazon’s tracking of consumer wishlists, electronics deals are most in demand during this year’s Black Friday.
As middle class segments of society continue to expand in population-heavy emerging markets, local households are able to dedicate larger sums towards home durables. One company to take advantage of this is Global Fashion Group, which is backed by Germany-based Rocket Internet. The group has pioneered e-commerce in emerging markets across Asia, Africa and Latin America, and brought Black Friday events to Pakistan and Nigeria through its respective Daraz and Jumia brands in 2014. Only half of Pakistani households have a washing machine and less than 20.0% of Nigerian homes have a refrigerator, so there is clearly great scope to expand sales of such durables with heavily discounted offers.
Black Friday may be seen as somewhat of a marketing fad in mature economies already bombarded with retail campaigns, but the event can open doors in less developed markets where households are only now jumping on the e-commerce bandwagon.