Brands See Underwhelming Sales Growth On Amazon’s Black Friday

We are right now at the half-way point of the five-day shopping event, also known as the ‘Cyber Five or the ‘Turkey five’ event; little information is beginning to appear in an initial couple of days of the holiday shopping event.

Overall, performance for several brands was somewhat sluggish in comparison to the successful 2020 sale. The main cause for this may be that consumers did not go towards Black Friday deals as eagerly this year. According to preliminary data provided by the software company that provides advertising technology, Pacvue Advertising impressions seem to be at the lower side this year, just under a 2x increase week-over-week (more down than previous years). Impressions are the amount that an advertisement is displayed on a screen for a user to view and are a valuable indicator of the actual website traffic.

In the lead-up to the event, the analytics firm eMarketer predicted that Thanksgiving Day would have the most significant year-over-year growth in eCommerce shopping. This forecast is on the idea that more brick and mortar stores would close for the day of Turkey Day, brands starting their Black Friday promotions earlier in the week, and the rise of “couch commerce” as a non-official tradition after Thanksgiving dinner.

Screenshot of a Black Friday promotional email received by the writer on November 23rd, 2012, at 2 PM EST.

Based on the promotional emails that were a part of my inbox, I observed the trend of companies kicking off sales for promotions early to be remarkably accurate. I began seeing Black Friday promotions at 2 PM EST on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

Pacvue, according to Pacvue, one of their clients, saw its Cost Per Click (CPC) rise by 100 percent at Thanksgiving Day itself, reinforcing the idea that Black Friday sales may not be solely about Friday in the future. CPC is a sign of how competitive advertisers are using auctions, such as Amazon’s.

Brands spring for smaller discounts.

My experience with my company, Bobsled Marketing, is that our 100 clients have paid for promotions and discounts on their merchandise, but with a few minor tweaks which would reduce the demand. Some chose to offer discounts just on specific products that are high-availability instead of throughout their entire catalog. Other times values were less than previous years.

Brands experiencing problems with inventory were also more likely not to provide attractive discounts on their Amazon range. Amazon’s search algorithm favors products currently in stock and Prime-approved, and when products are not in stock, it could take quite a while to recover their competitive edge. The advertising campaigns also have to stop to have their time-frame for ramping up after the product is back on the market. Many brands are forced to retain or even increase prices to avoid the dreaded out-of-stock situation.

The promotion is consistent with other retailers as well. Based on research by Refinitiv, the median discount offered by significant retailers leading up to Black Friday is 33.4% compared with a discount average of 37% provided in October and during the beginning of the month.

More to come when it comes to Cyber Monday’s eMarketer states in their predictions of sales overall, Cyber Monday is likely to be the most important sales day of the retail market. Although the 2021 Black Friday results may not be in the history books, the celebration isn’t over yet.

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Adam Collins
Adam writes about technology, business and economics. With master's degree in Economics, he's presented six papers in international conferences. As a solivagant in the constant state of fernweh, curiosity is the main weapon in his arsenal.

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