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Are we already over Black Friday???

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In just over two weeks the country will once again shame itself by abandoning every ounce of dignity it has in order to save £50 on the cost of a flat screen TV. Yes, it’s once again time for the traumatic emotive user experience nobody saw coming – Black Friday. Honestly, I’d give them all a bag of satsumas and some chocolate coins and expect them to be grateful.

It’s not just me that’s still haunted by images of grown women wrestling children for televisions – Asda have completely backed off on the idea of Black Friday this year. Let’s face it, it wasn’t great publicity for them. According to chief executive Andy Clarke, Asda’s customers have told them that “they don’t want to be held hostage to a day or two of sales” and instead the Walmart-owned supermarket is going to focus on offering deals on food, drink and household basics. Nothing to do with the atrocious images that are still seared into the mind of a nation then Andy?

Last year, UK consumers spent £810m on online purchases alone during Black Friday and this year those sales are predicted to pass a record-breaking £1 billion. But a lot of businesses seem wary to publicise how they’re going to mark this now annual festival of ill manners without seeing what their competitors are doing. Even organisations like John Lewis that have set up a dedicated Black Friday website, have yet to fill it with details of this year’s deals. It would seem that everyone’s treading carefully – maybe inspiring common assault between customers isn’t high on the agenda for British retailers after all.

Some brands are flying so high on a year-round message of savings that they don’t need to bother with Black Friday at all. I’m talking of course about the unstoppable juggernaut that is Aldi, this week named as the world’s top brand by Siegel & Gale’s Global Brand Simplicity Index. Apparently it’s all about an ever-growing product range and a clear, key message of saving money. Nice work Aldi.

The German owned store, who last year famously tweeted “Hmm, we think we did #BlackFriday last week. Although it was just called ‘Friday’. And it’s the same every day!” were closely followed by their counterparts Lidl who took third place in the poll. Their competitors better watch out because Aldi and Lidl’s refusal to bow at the altar of Black Friday sends out definite vibes that there’s no need for dramatic gestures when you’re on a winning streak – maybe Jeremy Corbyn’s got the same strategy…

Talking of businesses that aren’t winning, one store that’s had too many Black Fridays, Mondays and every other day of the week is our friends at Tesco – living proof that you should never utter the phrase “well at least things can’t get any worse”. In what feels like an achingly desperate attempt to claw back some custom, Tesco are going all out to make Black Friday big news. We’ll have to see how it goes, but it just all feels a little too late for the one time giant of supermarket shopping.

Seemingly blissfully unaware that their rivals are succeeding on a wave of quality as well as value, Tesco are throwing everything at a Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend and they’re already facing problems. Today on their Tesco Direct website, above a large clock counting down the days and hours until the offers begin is a notice to say that all deliveries – even Click & Collect – are taking 5-7 days. Ouch. Not what today’s instantly gratified customers want to read.

Compare with Argos, who are offering products ready in as little as 60 seconds. Now that’s how to keep up with consumer demand. Argos are also offering deals every Friday in November, allowing their customers to enjoy big savings for more than 24 hours. In fact, it might just be worth considering Argos for a paragraph or two.

Not so long ago, most people only appreciated them for a catalogue that kept their kids quiet for an hour or two in the school holidays, but now their brand has grown beyond naff jewellery and cheap toys. Despite posting a fall in sales during the spring of this year, a fresh ad campaign and some great deals on digital products have me predicting good things for them this winter.

No, I haven’t purchased a crystal ball (I believe they’re on page 835 of their catalogue) but I do have a soft spot for a business that at least tries to move with the times. For Argos, there’s that unbeatable message of quality and value – today’s consumers won’t accept one without the other – but you can also add a whole load of convenience with orders taken online or in store. Throw in quick deliveries to just about anywhere that takes your fancy and you’ve got a great formula to maximise sales this Christmas.

Do you know what your customers want from you this spending season? Are they prepared to scrum down for big money savings or would your consumers prefer a more dignified approach to their festive shopping? With only two weeks to go until my personal vision of hell is unleashed onto our high streets, you’ll have worked out your strategy by now. I hope!!!

But when you do manage to come up for air, get in touch with The Monachie Project and access our consumer research consultancy for the ultimate team debrief. No gimmicks, no flash sales, just a proven track record of making good businesses great. As offers go, that’s pretty unbeatable!!!

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