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Black Friday In The Middle Of A Pandemic

Black Friday is chaotic with stores jam-packed with customers putting their hands on the best deals. This has taken a turn-around this year, because of the “coronavirus”. The pandemic has changed the rules of shopping. This has forced businesses to adapt to the current times by participating in Black Friday while following lockdown regulations. How do they operate within regulations? Someone might say online shopping, but this can’t be the only option, especially in South Africa.

Online shopping is convenient, in that your package can be delivered at your doorstep or you can schedule your items for collection to avoid long queues, but if we are being realistic the cons outweigh the pros. The cons being security, quality, waiting time, return policies, added delivery fees, and scams. Those are some of the things that give customers anxiety.

Now, with a lot of feelings around Black Friday, we’ve gathered data using Brandwatch Consumer Research to uncover useful insights about Black Friday in the middle of a pandemic as businesses try to meet customers halfway.

Sentiment While analysing the conversation leading up to the 27 November, we noticed that the majority of the sentiment was positive. 80% of the posts were positive especially in discussions around savings and deals, while only 20% of it was negative with customers expressing their fear of scams and catching the virus. While there are negative things expressed about the day, we still see the excitement building across social media in the lead up to the shopping bonanza. The most positive keywords used were Black Friday as the lead keyword of the conversation, The flame emoji as an expression of “hot deals”, WhatsApp as small businesses advertise their products, Unbeatable in reference to the prices, and Card as customers are warned about giving their details on the web when shopping during this time.

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By looking at this data, businesses and brands have to build trust and confidence by communicating how they’ll make stores safer while providing an excellent customer experience at the same time.

Gender Breakdown Now, despite the stereotype about women and shopping, data is proving this to be a myth as we see that more males are engaging in the Black Friday conversation than females. They are hoping to find a great deal on the PS5, which comes as no surprises. Retailers know that this demographic is browsing their sites for discounted prices on devices and cool gadgets. They’ve heard what their customers want and now they are preparing some exciting, budget-friendly deals. We see this data through social platforms like Twitter as retailers are working tirelessly to ensure their campaigns are engaged.

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A whole month has been given to South Africans to do more than a few days of Black Friday shopping (online and in-store shopping). Therefore consumers must be careful when it comes to month-long 'shoppertunities' and should be extra vigilant when making a purchase, especially online.

While online shopping isn’t the only way to shop around during a pandemic, brands have figured it would be easier to start their sales earlier in the month to avoid stampede on Black Friday. Black Friday presents a major opportunity for retailers to improve processes that can sustain them beyond the holiday shopping season and other companies are offering innovative shopping promotions such as shopping online and collecting in-store to avoid queues and paying for shipping fees.

While 2020 has been a year and a half for both customers and businesses, it left many wondering if Black Friday is canceled. Thankfully, the answer is not, because we see businesses and brands announcing sales and deals daily as the date gets closer. This annual shopping event is going to be different as we are in the middle of a pandemic and social distancing is still a thing.

By Machele Sedibane