Two Extraordinary Days of Shopping: Chronicles from Black Friday and Cyber Monday

There are the Christmas, Easter, and summer holidays. And then, there is Black Friday and Cyber Monday – a cultural and retail phenomenon that has become a staple reoccurrence on our calendar, so much so, it inspired more than 200 fashion brands this year to boycott the two events in the name of climate change.

GroupM Italy Research & Insight team, in collaboration with the local GroupM Digital team, tracked the performance of these two highly anticipated shopping dates in order to answer some key questions: How do consumers behave on Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Are purchases limited to 24 hours? How are consumers prepared? Is shopping planned or impulsive? Is there a defined budget? Do these events add to or replace pre-Christmas purchases and winter sales? Do these events only involve online stores, or do they also extend to physical stores?

The insights of this project are informed by GroupM’s Data Hub on Consumer Understanding, consisting of data from proprietary DMP, digital data from the main sites and online channels such as Amazon and an ad-hoc search panel from LIVE Panel.

To Begin…

Shopping used to be thought of in terms of Christmas and then post-Christmas sales. Black Friday then came and reshaped our thinking on shopping. It has become a mass phenomenon that is cross generational, spans across product categories and sales channels, and plays an increasingly important role in offline sales. The consumer journey now spans the two weeks before black Friday.

And, if that’s not enough, Cyber Monday continues to increase its grip on younger and technology-loving targets. The event is purely online, and the consumer journey focuses on the day itself, though partly embraces the week prior.

96% of those who know Black Friday will make purchases that Friday against 67% of those who know Cyber Monday. The percentage of potential buyers for Cyber Monday rises to 73% on Millennials and 70% on men.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday: What Comes to Mind?

Black Friday is synonymous with New Sales (77%) and Christmas Gifts (59%). Cyber Monday is mainly associated with Tech / Informatics (69%) and Amazon (56%). The rational associations are flanked by emotional ones: curiosity, research and expectation (BF 42%; CM 34%). What stands out is not the Millennials who have been active in these two retail events for some time, but rather the Baby Boomers who more recently started participating in these shopping phenomenal.

Social or Family & Friends?

Close friends and acquaintances are mostly likely to influence Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases. However, social posts also play a role. A large majority will post and follow the events on social media (BF 64%; CM 67%). This phenomenon is particularly evident in the Millennials (BF 79%; CM 77%): 44% (vs. 33% of the total) who share their purchases on social media for the sheer pleasure of doing so or to “make their friends brown”. The percentage rises to 47% for Cyber Monday (vs. 41% of the total).

Free or shared?

Black Friday and Cyber Monday become an opportunity to organize a day dedicated to purchases with family or friends (BF 44%; CM 41%), particularly the GenZ, which during the Black Friday, often becomes the digital mentor of its relatives.

Significant percentages of those who, during the two days of digital shopping, decide then to organize their day differently or organize their day around dedicated shopping (BF 24%; CM 25%). This behavior is particularly evident in Millennials, while GenZ prefers to rely on food delivery services, especially during Cyber Monday (29%).

Impulse or planning?

75% of Black Friday buyers and 64% of Cyber Monday claim to have a wishlist and a defined budget. Baby Boomers, who have less experience in these days of shopping, are more likely to be carried away by the whirlwind of curiosity, without a definite plan.

For Black Friday, people have a budget of up to 300 euros and for Cyber Monday up to 200 euros, much higher than the monthly average declared in online purchases (around 100 euros).

For both events, 40% think they will buy at least 3 products and expect a discount margin of over 40%.

Which products and services are purchases focused on? And on which platforms?

Consumers are embracing an increasing number of product categories during Black Friday. Clothing, bags and accessories are the most desired category with 39% of those wishing to purchase; Telephones, gadgets and appliances are the most sought-after products for Cyber Monday.

Through its DMP, GroupM monitored the 4 weeks prior to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Low Internet Users have shown a growing interest both in key categories such as Smartphone (+ 44%), Gaming (+ 26%) and Appliances (+ 20%) and on seasonal categories such as Toys (+ 51%). The Heavy Internet Users, on the other hand, focused on the purchase of emerging categories such as Christmas clothing shopping (+ 27%), Photography (+ 26%) and Kitchen items (+ 20%).

We also conclude from the digital data that there is also a growing consumer interest in premium brands and products, particularly on tech, appliances and clothing.

Beyond Amazon, which confirms its leadership on both events (BF 79%; CM 66%), Zalando (30%) emerges for Black Friday and Mediaworld, Unieuro and Euronics (over 20%) for Cyber Monday. Still marginal, but worth keeping an eye on, especially for the purchase of services related to experiences and passions such as books, movies, music, games and pay TV Services such as SKY, Netflix, DAZN and finally Travel, all around 10% for both events.

Device & Channels, are they 100% digital?

The activities of the companies that anticipate the event have significant repercussions on brand awareness and consideration, especially for Black Friday: 52% declare to look online for a brand or product seen during the event, while 46% declare to access directly to the relevant website.

In both events, purchases will be made on PC (over 60%) and by Smartphone (with about 50%); the order of use of the devices reverses for the GenZ and the Millennials.

For Black Friday, the physical channel is consolidated as an alternative to online shops: the store has an important role for 34% of the interviewees. The physical channel is starting to make room for Cyber Monday (17%). A phenomenon that is also found in the intention to participate in dedicated events in the area and to visit the physical pop-up stores of the online shops set up for the occasion (BF 56%; CM 62%).

All out in just one day?

84% of the sample did research in two weeks leading Black Friday. The consumer journey expands and 87% will buy in the week of the event. For Cyber Monday, 80% sought information in the same week and 52% will buy on the day of the event.

The most relevant forms of communication to learn about Black Friday purchases were TV advertising (30%), Amazon activities (53%) and online advertising (33%). Cyber Monday lives on digital communication alone, with Amazon as the host (36%).

Who is the recipient of the purchases, me or the others?

Both shopping events represent an opportunity to indulge in a product in wishlist or to accommodate an impromptu impulse (BF 88%; CM 82%). But we will also take advantage of the opportunity to give gifts, especially to our partner (BF 52%; CM 37%).

GenZ will be a shopping assistant for all family members during Black Friday, and will support younger brothers and sisters during Cyber Monday.

This is a first exploration that allowed GroupM to monitor the behaviors, habits, expectations and desires of Italians on the eve of the two most awaited dates dedicated to purchases with declared data and tracked data.

Chronicles from Black Friday and Cyber Monday

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Media Contact

Paola Maffezzoni
Head of Marketing & Communications, GroupM Italy
[email protected]