Judging by the flurry of discounts and offers hitting my inbox over the past few weeks, times have changed since the infamous viral videos of Black Friday shoppers queuing outside department stores in the middle of the night. While Black Friday was once a single day in the calendar, growing to include Cyber Monday and the days in-between, it is clear that 2018 marked the year retailers considered their discounting plans on a much longer scale.

In it’s latest US 2018 holiday outlook, PwC reported that Black Friday has actually become Black November, with consumers shopping throughout the entire holiday week and beyond. This trend is reflected globally with UK retailers such as Carphone Warehouse and Currys PC World starting their sales a full two weeks before the official event.

So what should retailers really be planning for when it comes to Black November, and how can they make the most of customers that are ready and waiting to buy?

A less than predictable shopping journey

Black Friday discounts have become synonymous with the start of the holiday season, playing a core role in shoppers’ Christmas buying plans. With sales now lasting for weeks and retailers battling to beat competitor deals, it is an ideal time to get hold of gifts for family and friends.

Additionally, many consumers plan when it comes to Black Friday purchases. Deciding what they want to buy ahead of the discounts being announced, many will browse the deals with a very specific purchase in mind, searching to find the best deal on that item to suit them.

On the other hand, some bargain hunters may simply browse the sales to see if anything catches their eye – be it for themselves or gifts, making it increasingly difficult to judge a person’s desired outcome from their shopping journey.

Getting your strategy right

So retailers need to find a way to get their Black November strategies right regardless of how consumers are shopping – a tough goal to achieve. Personalisation will become key for retailers. Choosing what to advertise, whether to an existing customer or to a new shopper, based on their individual needs rather than simply the purchase they are making will allow retailers to better understand the customer and how to get the most value from them.

This applies throughout the year, with every shopper increasingly taking control of how, where and when they shop – making targeting harder for marketers no matter what the calendar month. Using the right data to understand the consumer’s full journey (and how to improve it) will be key to not only achieving Black Friday success as the sales day becomes two months of holiday spending, but also into the new year and beyond.

 By Naomi Whittome, Senior Account Manager