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Ready, Set, Market: Let the 2014 Holiday Retail Marketing Countdowns Begin

By now, most consumers are intimately aware that the holiday season is the most competitive time of the year for retailers, and as a result, savvy shoppers can get some incredible deals. Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, and in 2013 the overall Black Friday sales in physical retail locations reached $12.3 billion, according to ShopperTrak, a retail industry research firm. The countdown to Black Friday is a well-known retail tradition, but there are really a trio of countdowns that retail marketers can take advantage of to maximize their holiday marketing campaigns. Here is an analysis of some of the countdowns and how to use them.

Spring Black Friday

While the weekend of Black Friday dominates the retail landscape, there is nothing stopping a savvy retailer from taking advantage of the rest of the year to offer great deals that hint at the coming retail extravaganza of the holiday shopping season. The idea of “Christmas in July” isn’t anything new, and retailers can use it and the idea of “Spring Black Friday” to inject a little holiday shopping countdown year-round.

Online shopping giant Amazon has long secreted a small, nondescript Black Friday landing page on their site that offers to keep shoppers informed about upcoming deals. This encourages shoppers to get their wish lists going and to gets them excited about upcoming deals. Encouraging shoppers to share their wish lists on social media can generate word of mouth sales that last year-round.

Black November

Retailers are beginning to use the entire month of November as a series of sales that count down to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This change in retailer behavior has come to include the entire week following Thanksgiving as well as Thanksgiving Day as shopping landmarks, and many retailers are using the entire month of November as a part of their holiday marketing plans. Walmart is already trumpeting its upcoming Cyber Monday sales, teasing deals on Sony HDTVs, Samsung smartphones and Nikon cameras. CBS News reports that last year, Walmart introduced many of its early holiday shopping deals on Nov. 1, and Best Buy began offering holiday deals the first weekend of November. Building to Black November is a key strategy to remaining competitive in a time in which retail giants are pushing holiday savings year-round.

Christmas Countdowns

During the days between Black Friday and Christmas Day, online shoppers are most concerned with receiving their purchases in time for the holiday, and the countdown becomes paramount. Marketing must shift its focus from amazing deals to ensured delivery and availability, and this can be accomplished with clear shipping cutoff dates for online orders as well as text and email updates regarding products that have shipped.

For items that are selling out, offering to keep customers informed as to when a product comes back in stock gives retailers a chance to fulfill consumers needs when all hope of finding an item seems lost. Every holiday season has those must-have items that lead to riotous shopper behavior on Black Friday, and limited quantities can lead to consumer dissatisfaction. Attempting to capture what are essentially lost sales with alerts about restocked product can snag a few final sales as late as Christmas Eve.

Questions about your holiday marketing? Ask us here.

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