Why Black Friday in MENA is a bigger deal than ever

Sara Hamdan, Josette Ghorra / September 2019

Black Friday, one of the biggest online shopping moments in the world, is right around the corner. In this piece, we unveil new insights about consumer research and online shopping habits around this key November moment in MENA. Then we suggest actionable takeaways based on these insights that every marketer needs to know to build effective campaigns from now. Ready? Click. Buy.

New research is in: Search plays a pivotal role in research + shopping

The biggest retail spike of the year happens in the third week of November, exactly around Black Friday, when weekly search queries experience an average uplift of 15% compared to the rest of the year. Black Friday is a peak moment within the retail season in Q4, with searches for the event growing significantly each year since its introduction to the region in 2014. In fact, there has been a 10x increase in White Friday queries since 2014, while Black Friday queries have more than tripled.

More recently, we’ve seen that searches specifically for Black Friday start as early as October, with 40% of searches taking place in the 4 weeks leading up to Black Friday. It also doesn’t end once the actual day is over - quite the opposite. The gifting season in Q4 starts in early November and continues well into the holiday season at the end of the year. In our survey on Black Friday, 40% of shoppers stated they will do some of their end-of-year holiday shopping during the day.

This year, we asked 600 shoppers in the UAE about their purchase behaviour during Black Friday to better understand consumer research and shopping habits. The survey confirmed that a large part of the consumer’s shopping journey, particularly during the event, takes place online.

  • 67% research online before purchasing during Black Friday in the UAE1. For context, this is higher than the 57% in the UK and 48% in the US who research online before making a purchase.
  • 61% of shoppers use Google Search specifically to research online during Black Friday, compared to 25% who use brand / retailer website and 22% who use social media platforms.

Your 4 step guide to a standout Black Friday marketing plan

A well-crafted marketing strategy can help you engage with consumers in the right way, at the right time, around the biggest online shopping moment of the year. For inspiration, take a look at this insightful article on developing creatives for the 4-6 week period surrounding Black Friday. In line with this advice, here’s a four step guide to creating a complete marketing plan that will have an impact amid the clutter:

1) Follow the consumer journey

Teasers for Black Friday can begin weeks ahead of the event and trail for weeks afterwards. The key is to understand the consumer’s purchase journey during the different times, as illustrated in this graph:

Black Friday

The right messaging per funnel stage per period is key. For example, you want to encourage consumers to ‘discover’ your brand in the awareness stage by creating campaigns that associate you with Black Friday. On the other hand, if a consumer is ready to buy in the ‘shop’ phase, your ad must have a clear call to action and perhaps a countdown feature.

2) Choose your audience

Defining audiences today is much more nuanced than a gender/age breakdown (i.e. Lara is female and 28). Instead, it is driven by a user’s interests or more nuanced parameters (i.e. Lara is a musician and a millennial). You can do this by combining your data with signals from Google. Check out this piece on the power of focusing on audiences rather than demographics.

3) Pick the right advertising solutions

Different products are effective at each stage of the marketing funnel and each period. This graph illustrates how, for example, TrueView for Action/Shopping would be ideal during the shop phase, while short bumper ads are great reminders of abandoned baskets after Black Friday is over.

Black Friday

4) Build the right measurement infrastructure

It is important to keep plans for measurement in mind right from the start of a campaign. This will help you define your goals and ultimately lead to gathering the results you seek.

Black Friday

Black Friday in MENA is getting bigger each year and it is worthwhile to spend time developing campaigns for the season that start early and appeal to bargain shoppers in the right way. It’s a big deal. Literally.