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Terminator: Save-ation – They’ll Be Back… for Your Brand on Black Friday

Our Manager of Market Research dives into the personas of Black Friday.

Black Friday, a name given by retailers to the Friday after Thanksgiving that gives brands everywhere hopes to get out of the red and into the black, is the busiest weekend of the holiday season.

Over the years, us internet nerds felt left out and flocked to the internet the following Monday. Now we get our own day of shopping, Cyber Monday. Yeah, it sounds like something out a “Terminator” movie- but, judging by some people’s ruthless shopping ways, maybe that name makes sense… Hello, Terminator: Save-ation

And since there is plenty of pie to go around, small businesses didn’t want to be left out. So after the big brand stores have their day, Small Business Saturday gets their turn at bat. While this slice of the audience may not be as crazy as the Black Friday crowd, they are more focused on giving back to those businesses that may have been left out on Black Friday and stimulate the local economy by shopping small.

During the holiday season, several Black Friday/Cyber Monday websites pop up to get their own slice of the ecommerce pie. They’re known as “Black Friday” sites, although they affect that shopping weekend. The rest of the year, these websites are dormant with only occasional updates to keep visitors in the loop about the next Black Friday event.

Quick side note to these websites: we know when the next Black Friday event is happening… It’s the FRIDAY after Thanksgiving. It’s been like that for… Well… forever. Thanks for the e-mails though.

While these websites do have a short shelf life, they accumulate a lot of traffic with a total of 100k-500k  daily impression and 1.2 million unique visitors. So, despite the dormancy and the occasional spam e-mails, these numbers makes Black Friday sites’ significance harder to ignore than a stampede of shoppers at a Chanel sample sale.

Exactly what slice of the post-Thanksgiving shopping craze pie (yum) are these Black Friday sites targeting, audience-wise? How do they manage to have such high conversion rates that hinge on only a few days of the year? What measures should they take to influence the online crowd? What can we learn from these seasonal sites and their consumers to benefit our brands year-round?


Ask no further. As manager, VP, CEO and Grand Duke of market research at iAcquire (it wouldn’t all fit on my business card, so we we went with ‘manager’), I have access to and expertise in using demographic tools, including Experian Simmons Oneview and Nielsen data, to collect mountains of relevant data.

Once amassed, I analyzed the information to answer the very questions listed above – and more. My sidekick, social media strategist Megan Brown, is also going to chime in, especially regarding the ways these sites – and your brand – can use this valuable information to influence online consumers and drive conversion.

First, let’s discuss who the consumers are who are targeted by and visit these sites. In order to translate the thousands of pages of data I’ve collected into something useful and easy to understand, I’m going to create personas so that you can connect on a more personal level to who these people are, why they are on these sites, what their typical online behaviors are and, of course, how to influence them.

The main target audience for these Black Friday sites are moms between the ages of 30 to 45. You definitely know (or are) someone just like this.

Let’s call our online shopping mom friend Coupon Cutting Carol – after all, a lot of these Black Friday websites have the look and feel of a website like coupons.com. In fact, the majority of their content is Black Friday circulars from other retailers.

Say hi to Coupon Cutting Carol.

coupon-cutting-carolYou can put down the scissors, Carol, you don’t need them for online shopping. This segment of the audience visits blogs and message boards websites on a regular basis. However, a majority of this audience has only visited these sites to view content and very rarely post. They also tend to go to the websites maintained by CNNMSNBCABC and Fox News. Coupon Cutting Carol and use Google and Bing to search for such keywords: coupons to print, coupon codes, printable coupons and shopping codes discounts.

As far as influencing this persona – you don’t have to over think it. Coupon Cutting Carol uses the internet as a research tool to locate the best deals in town. She’s also visually stimulated (which makes sense, because coupons are basically advertisements).

The best way to influence and engage them would be with an info-graphic that is focused on cost cutting around a household. These info-graphics can be presented to her through the social networks she frequents the most – Twitter or Google+. Make sure to optimize posts containing links to info-graphics with hashtags and circulate them amongst prominent household-saving blogs as well.

Okay so the Coupon Cutting Carol is going to make sure the big brand stores are taken care of. But what about the little guy? The mom & pop stores you be going to for years. Well Saturday is their day to shine. Small Business Saturday has been a huge success in bringing awareness to the little guy struggle during the holiday season. And while their audience is a little smaller, they have a huge voice when it comes to promoting their cause.

Give it up for Stay Small Sam.

Stay Small Sam is fighting to keep those “Mom & Pop” shops open. She is a strong believer in “shopping small.”  She understands that there is a market space for big brand stores, but she also believes that if there was a stronger voice for small businesses, they could share space with big brands in this market.

This segment of the audience is very well connected and need to be to ensure their message is heard LOUD & CLEAR. SHOP SMALL, PEOPLE!

Sam is very social, so social networks are the best places to both influence and engage her. She spends most of her time online chatting with friends via instant messaging and on social networks (such as Facebook & Twitter). Although many in this group like to buy products online, they like to research them before making a purchase – but they research by word of mouth (social) more so than through search.

Ladies, you aren’t the only ones doing some serious online shopping. During Cyber Monday, men, between the ages of 30 – 55, stalk the internet looking for the deals on big ticket purchases such as – you guessed it – tablets, laptop, HDTVs. You would think these men would be trying to get a jump on their holiday shopping, however that is not the case. They’re buying items to place in their man caves, instead of under Christmas trees. (Megan adds: “Typical male.”) 75% of the men that fall under this persona are making a purchase for themselves.

Let’s call him Keep It For Myself Kanye.

Cute pup, Kanye.

The Keep It For Myself Kanye persona will forgo waiting on lines Thursday night at the brick and mortar stores. But he will be at work bright and early Monday morning to do his shopping (hey, it’s that or update his fantasy football lineup, no one can actually be expected to work when they have a turkey hangover).

A side note about the Cyber Monday stats: While Black Friday has normally been a huge success for brick and mortar retailers, Cyber Monday has become its own beast. With the rise of Amazon.com and other online-only retailers, Cyber Monday has gained a lot of focus of all retailers, even those with offline stores. A little over half of all Americans will be shopping online that day. Roughly 75% of the all transactions conducted on Cyber Monday will be done on at work (sorry, bosses everywhere), and most of these purchases will be made before noon EST.

Although Black Friday sales figures currently have a lower projection when compared to previous years, Cyber Monday has gradually increased and grown into cyber week. And Cyber Week is projected to account for about 1.44 billion in sales. That is a lot of TV! If you haven’t celebrated it yet this year, this is the perfect time to TREAT YO SELF 2012.

But, back to good ol’ Keep It For Myself Kanye. Although not alone in his predisposition for online shopping at work, there are some characteristics that distinguish him as a target persona. The internet use of Keep It For Myself Kanye may be below the national average, but this persona goes online to SHOPthey spend three times more time than average on just one website shopping and collecting information.

They mostly visit sites such as ESPN.comMapQuest.com and fitnessmagazine.com. While using certain websites to gather information about future purchases, and they prefer to use sites like cnet.com, amazon.com and zappos.com as resources of information. Nevertheless, they do conduct searches on Google, using keywords such as ‘best HDTV,’ ‘cheap basketball tickets,’ ‘news headlines’ and ‘health-conscious recipes.’

Keep It For Myself Kanye is way too selfish to spend any of his valuable time online unless he’s buying things for himself. Due to this persona’s limited internet usage, the best way to influence and engage this persona would be with an email marketing campaign. He may not surf the web, but he definitely checks his e-mail daily and often (according to the statistics, about 6 times a day). There is guarantee you’re going to recoup on your investment.

Also, make sure that your e-mail content is optimized for mobile. This persona consumes 75% of online content on a mobile device. Even better, include direct links to purchase within the e-mail so he can be in and out of your online store right away and the persona will enjoy the efficient user experience enough to come back again next time he wants the latest tech gadget (especially considering the one he bought will probably be outdated in another month, anyway).

Black Friday is going to be a solid day for traditional retailers. However, Cyber Monday or Cyber Week or my new name for that week – ‘Terminator: Save-ation – will become more of a powerhouse than recent years. This charge will be mostly lead by Amazon.com, who has been posting deals all month long to lead up to Black Friday.

I’m predicting the total week of Terminator: Save-ation is going to gross about 130 billion dollars. While Keep it For Myself Kanye is going to purchase those big ticket items like a HDTV and home theater system, Coupon Cutting Carol will probably spend much more money over the course of Terminator: Save-ation.

So, how does this help your brand?

To be very honest, there is the obvious: any brand can benefit from associating themselves with the Black Friday chaos. However, brands need to change their focus from overall holiday shoppers to create campaigns to specifically target these two heavy purchasing personas as well as use some similar marketing tactics (minus the spam e-mails).

Although the majority of search traffic are deep in their purchasing cycle, with the right content there is a way to get a piece of this market. And you can do that by… SIKE!!! Oh, c’mon, we can’t give away all the goodies for free.

But we will say this: the Coupon Cutting Carol persona should be the focus of any campaign that is launching during the holiday season. They have an overall higher brand attachment rate than Keep it For Myself Kanye and Stay Small Sam and will more likely become a champion of a brand if she is engaged with the right content.

Tell us below in the comments: What is your brand doing to take advantage of the Black Friday and Terminator: Save-ation shoppers? Has your strategy changed from previous years?

Stay tuned to the iAcquire blog for a follow-up next week!