Monday, October 03, 2016 3:50:16 PM

Black Friday was once a strictly American holiday, a post-Thanksgiving blowout targeted at families hunting for the best deals before Christmas. In recent years, this shopping trend has reached British shores, expanding the target audience for ecommerce marketers who want to reach global shoppers during one of the biggest retail frenzies of the year.

In 2014, Black Friday became the top ecommerce shopping event in the United Kingdom, accounting for £810 million in online sales and 59 percent of online retail searches. The phenomenon is particularly significant because British shoppers have no cultural connection to Thanksgiving, the American holiday that officially launches the Christmas shopping season for U.S. consumers. This budding trend suggests that advertisers (both in the states and across the pond) can condition consumers to shop more during this busy season by creating an expectation of great deals and high-value products and services.

With the rising interest in Black Friday, brands should be prepared to ramp up online advertising as shoppers search for holiday deals using a variety of media. Unsurprisingly, mobile shopping is one of the fastest growing sources of revenue. During the UK's 2014 Black Friday event, roughly 30 percent of revenue and 50 percent of online traffic came from mobile shoppers.

Home appliances, furniture and apparel were among the top search categories, suggesting that UK consumers are less concerned about holiday-themed purchases and more focused on using the heavy discounts to buy big-ticket household items. Not only does the UK market offer more opportunities for brands to engage, but it also enables a wider range of retailer to target shoppers who are thinking beyond the holiday mindset.

The most important key to success is launching Black Friday sales at the right time. Consumers typically start researching Black Friday sales up to three weeks in advance, and specific categories peak at different times of the shopping cycle. For example, clothing searches usually peak during the early hours of Black Friday, as apparel items are in high demand and availability can change rapidly. Consumers prefer to search for high-ticket, high-value items, such as jewelry, days in advance, ensuring they can find the best prices and stay up to date on availability leading up to the big day.

Ecommerce retailers who hope to cross over to a British audience should start marketing earlier than usual to generate buzz. While Black Friday is a much-anticipated tradition in America, it is still a new phenomenon for many UK shoppers. Online searches about the origins, definition and date of Black Friday trend heavily in the United Kingdom, offering a chance for marketers to divert attention to brand websites and catch attention with online ads by answering shoppers' most pressing questions. When is Black Friday, and what great discounts await?

For tips on targeting our massive local and U.S. national audience with your Black Friday promotions, contact the LA Times today.

Categories: Marketing Tips, Marketing Trends

Tags: marketing, trends, tips, retail