Black Friday in lockdown: a guide

As the UK reaches the midpoint of our second lockdown, shoppers are really putting the “cyber” in Cyber Week in the build-up to the biggest shopping event of the year. Make sure you’ve pivoted your Black Friday marketing strategy so that students can still make the most of it from home.

It’s a good job that Gen Z are known for being adaptable. The past year has seen online graduations, digitalised Freshers weeks and a whole lot of staying home in between. Now, they’re about to take part in the first fully-online Black Friday event, shopping from home in the midst of the UK’s second lockdown.

Brands, too, have had little time to prepare for this swift move online – but here are a few last-minute ideas to make sure your marketing strategy is lockdown-ready.  

Take inspo from the last lockdown

As you prepare for Black Friday in the midst of lockdown 2.0, there are certain learnings you can take from the first time we did this back in March. Across the country, Gen Z bucked trends by actually buying more during March and April 2020. It’s worth remembering that while other demographics are vulnerable to economic fluctuations, UK students have fairly stable incomes in the form of their student loan drops.

This was certainly true back in spring, when the student demographic channelled their spending into e-commerce platforms, seeking out entertainment, treats and practical buys to see them through the lockdown. 76% of students searched for discounts, 45% increased their online shopping, and 36% maintained their usual levels of buying online. 

Black Friday couldn’t come at a better time for students looking to treat themselves towards the end of lockdown. It’s also a key opportunity for students to stock up ahead of the festive season – 58% of Gen Zs intend to shop earlier than usual as a direct result of COVID-19, so make sure you’ve got an equal balance of self-care items and gift opportunities as we move into Black Friday.

A woman browses on a Mac laptop sitting on her bed

Need some last-minute Cyber Week inspiration? Check out our Cyber Week Hub for student interviews, case studies and all of our latest Black Friday blogs

Get creative

As Black Friday moves online, it’s easy to assume that you’ll have a guaranteed tribe of student consumers lining up (virtually, of course) to get their hands on your deals. Not so. Students are a fickle bunch, and while their Gen Z age range makes them digital natives, they’re also highly motivated by the shopping experience. A slim majority of students (55%) said that they shopped entirely online last Black Friday, with 33% shopping a mixture of online and in-store and 12% shopping entirely in-store. Gen Z are, on balance, more likely to shop in-store than millennials.

Of course, with in-store shopping off the table for Black Friday 2020, you face a new challenge: recreating the experiential elements of shopping via digital platforms. This doesn’t have to mean a huge swathe of interactive, digitised shoppertainment. Even just introducing some fun interactivity via Instagram stories or delving into the world of TikTok helps to merge shopping with fun. Part of the reason why Gen Z love heading instore to shop is to share that experience with friends – it’s a social activity as much as a spending venture. With 69% of students sharing deals and discounts with friends, make sure you’re assets are primed for social sharing so that they can recreate this social experience from home.

A woman and dog sit on a bed, the woman is browsing on a laptop.

Play around with the timings

In previous years, part of the Black Friday buzz was around the opening times of physical stores – think high streets swelling with queues and mad rushes to grab stock, all concentrated within trading hours on one Friday in November. Even as e-commerce took off, online shopping had it’s own day – Cyber Monday – keeping the instore and online experiences distinctly separated.

But this year, you have a lot more freedom to play around with timing. Rather than camping out overnight in the street, student shoppers will be able to tap into your deals from the comfort of their student flats. In previous years, brands have reaped the benefits of creating their “own” version of Black Friday – a strategically-timed online shopping event that bucks the usual hectic timeslot of Black Friday itself. It’s an ideal way to dodge the stiff competition and put the spotlight on your brand – and your brand alone. Remember, students love exclusivity – and there’s nothing more exclusive than your own Black Friday timeslot.

Is your Black Friday marketing strategy ready for Gen Z? It’s not too late to learn the key trends that will dominate student shopping this Cyber Week. Download the Cyber Week Brand Playbook today.