Holiday 2012: Part XI – What One Can Learn From Promtional Email

For my earlier holiday expectations see the following posts:

Holiday 2012: Part I
Holiday 2012: Part II
Holiday 2012: Part III
Holiday 2012: Part IV
Holiday 2012: Part V
Holiday 2012: Part VI
Holiday 2012: Part VII
Holiday 2012: Part VIII
Holiday 2012: Part IX
Holiday 2012: Part X

We’ve seen Black Friday evolve in several ways in 2012.  As I’ve written about elsewhere, Black Friday has gotten longer in several ways.  First, stores have moved their opening hour forward.  But stores have also expanded their Black Friday promotions in several other ways – many of which have to do with the timing of their promotional releases. As retailers have started previewing their official Black Friday circulars in advance, they’ve had to adjust other elements of their promotional cycle. This year promotions and marketing pieces were especially pronounced.  I think it is instructive to review promotional emails in sequence. here’s a week of analysis:


The Week Before Black Friday – Sunday to Sunday (day -12 through day -5) 

Promotions the week before Black Friday promote the retailers Black Friday ad in the rare chance someone hasn’t seen it by then or if it was only officially being released during the week prior to Black Friday. In an effort to continue to drive traffic in the days ahead of Black Friday, promotions focused on offers in advance of Black Friday including  promoting specific items with a guarantee that prices will not be lower on Black Friday – what I call the “no reason to wait” promotion.  Other pre-Black Friday deals were generally promoted.

Promotions included offering Black Friday pricing early, continuing “Black November” promotions the weekend before Black Friday weekend, promoting Black Friday deals each day in advance of Black Friday, and promoting some Black Friday offers early.  Retailers also offered discounts on all purchases, but had these discounts end by the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving.


The Week of Black Friday (day -4 through day -3)

Monday through Wednesday promotions focused on early Black Friday pricing, more pre-release Black Friday deals, Apple announced they would again participate in Black Friday and the details would be forthcoming, a push to plan Black Friday purchases by reviewing deals, and a general push online including online deals taking place on Thursday.  There was a general push around timed “flash” deals.  Promotions also announced the expiration of deals prior to Black Friday – many of which expired at the end of Wednesday.


The Wednesday Before Thanksgiving ( day -2)

Promotions on Thanksgiving focused on shopping Black Friday early by going online as as promotions of one-day only online sales


Thanksgiving  (day -1)

Promotions on Thanksgiving were heavily focused on pushing shoppers online as well as pushing them towards early Black Friday openings that evening.

Black Friday  (day zero)

There were a tremendous number of EDMs that hit on Black Friday. As you can see below, it wasn’t uncommon to receive multiple emails from the same retail.  Some of these emails hit just after 12AM and carried throughout the day.  Early emails focused on clarification around the time Black Friday deals would be available online as well as the opening time for physical stores.  We saw last minute (ie previously unadvertised) offers announced.  We continued to see a big push online. This approach increased in the evening on the East Coast as physical stores began to close.

During the day we witnessed others take advantage of Black Friday marketing as you can see from the Jackson Hole and US Airways promotions below.

A second wave of emails hit Friday afternoon. These EDMs promoted extensions of black Friday deals, the release of additional Black Friday deals and as I mentioned above, another push of the online channel as physical stores began to close.



Saturday, The day after Black Friday (day +1) \

On Saturday – the day after Black Friday – we saw a new slew of EDMs promoting post-Black Friday deals as well as Saturday door busters, unique offers, and several last chance offers. We began to see our first push of CyberMonday later in the day.

Sunday – Two Days After Black Friday, One Day Before CyberMonday (day +2)

On Sunday, we saw retailers continuing to release previously unadvertised promotions. We also began to see early promotion of CyberMonday as well as early release of CyberMonday deals. Several years ago we saw Walmart begin to promote CyberWeek instead of just a single day. This year, I’m seeing other retailers do the same by extending CyberMonday beyond just Monday.  BestBuy for example opened their CyberMonday sales on Sunday which I believe they did last year as well.  As a result we are seeing CyberMonday give way to CyberSale, CyberWeekend, etc.