Thanksgiving, Black Friday & Digital Domination

In less than a week, shoppers will flood stores across the nation in the annual retail blood bath that is Thanksgiving weekend. In September, Ipsos Public Affairs conducted a survey for and found that nearly one-third of American internet users plan to visit retail stores on the holiday itself. Fifty-three percent of respondents noted that they planned to shop on Black Friday—though not all plan on visiting brick-and-mortar stores.

Out of those surveyed, 18% planned to shop primarily online come Black Friday while 20% indicated that their shopping would take place both online and in stores. A mere 15% would limit shopping to physical retail locations.


Black Friday won’t be able to hog the holiday shopping spotlight this year—some sales will begin Thanksgiving Day. Due in part to the short holiday season (27 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas), many retailers are opening stores on Thanksgiving to make up for potential losses. Despite these early shopping opportunities, consumers may still choose to spend Thanksgiving at home on the couch with family—this doesn’t mean they want to miss out on deals. They’ll shop online.

According to the Adobe Digital Index, “double-digit growth is expected early on Cyber Monday (up 15%) and Black Friday (up 17%) while Thanksgiving will be the fastest growing online shopping day (up 21%) in 2013.” Consequently, Thanksgiving is expected to produce a 21% increase in online sales to $1.1B.

Brands are jumping online to keep up with digital consumers. Using social media and video marketing, companies are hoping to attract online buyers in the US who, according to eMarketer, will spend $61.8 billion this year in November and December. That figure will be a 15.1% spending increase from 2012 and represent 23.5% of all retail ecommerce sales for the year.

Target’s holiday spot uses online video to encourage social media interactions amongst holiday shoppers. The commercial displays the Twitter hashtag #MyKindOfHoliday and Target is using Pinterest as the centerpiece of its holiday marketing. This campaign is integrated over several digital and traditional channels in what Jeff Jones, Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President of Target calls, “the most digitally-enabled effort in our history.”

Target will open its stores at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. Macy’s will also open its doors Thanksgiving evening. The company is continuing its star-studded commercial tradition, this year using One Direction to promote its holiday sale.

Uploaded yesterday, the video already has almost 400,000 YouTube views and 68,000 social shares. It’s set to rival last year’s Justin Bieber spot which generated nearly 500,000 YouTube views. Macy’s did not release an official video—this view count is based on the multiple versions uploaded to YouTube.

Both companies have focused on digital advertising efforts in order to take advantage of the growing number of online shoppers. Even brands targeting brick-and-mortar shoppers should have an online marketing strategy—according to Accenture, 65% of consumers plan to browse online and then go to a store to buy. Digital will dominate this holiday season and brands that fail to market online may miss out on the significant purchases these shoppers are predicted to make.

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