Black Friday: Curated experience essential in crowded market

Black Friday discounting has been the norm in the US, and its adoption is picking up in the UK where the market is becoming more saturated. In a market struggling with overstock, and subdued consumer demand for clothing; retailers are increasingly resorting to competitive discounting during Black Friday week.

While the highest volume of markdown products was still available on the Friday in the last three years, an increasing number of retailers started to put products into markdown earlier in the week leading up to Black Friday in a bid to steal a march on competitors. In the US – instead of markdown volumes spiking on the Friday, they are building up much earlier in the week: in 2015, markdown volumes jumped on Thursday: in 2016 they spiked on Wednesday; and in 2017, they did so on Tuesday. On the other hand, in the UK – where the event is not yet as established – retailers are still attempting to hold discounting their assortment until the Thursday before Black Friday.


2018 is likely to follow the same trend, with a big percentage of products being discounted on the Friday, where we have seen a significant overstock in the market this season. Some retailers, such as M&S and Zara, have been trying to protect their proposition in the past by using a targeted discounting approach or not discounting at all. If the retailer is not in a position to get away from reducing prices completely, it is better to have a smart, strategic way of discounting by generating desire around your product and discounting a selected range from the assortment.

In such a heavily promotional environment with discounts available frequently; consumers are overwhelmed with choice. Increasingly, price is less of as differentiating factor and consumers will be likely to gravitate towards brands offering a seamless, simplified shopping experience.

To stand out in a saturated market, retailers have to utilise consumer-centric initiatives such as online wish lists, virtual shopping baskets and curated gift lists – whether it is sending notifications when a saved product becomes discounted, like a few browser extensions have been doing for years (like Covvet and Shoptagr) or offering personalised shopping lists like Asos. This creates an edit for the customers based on their browsing and purchasing preferences that generate desire, and better enable discovery of products.

Join our webinar on Monday 24th September, our experts from WGSN Analytics will look back over the past three years in fashion retail to dissect the various patterns across discounting, marketing, gifting and volume. Using insights from our consumer and e-commerce data tools, we’ll explore the strategies that retailers will increasingly have to adopt to stand out in Black Friday week.  Register now.

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