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Published November 23rd 2020

Black Friday 2020: Are Consumers Moving Away from Sustainability?

2020’s ‘Cyber Five’ event could be the most profitable yet, but what’s changed in the lead up to a unique festive season?

Fortunately, unlike much of our lives in the before-times, Cyber Five (the five-day holiday shopping frenzy stretching from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday) is perfectly designed for a socially distanced, online-first experience.

2020: The biggest Cyber Five event yet?

According to Adobe Analytics data, last year the event was so popular that US shoppers spent a record $28.49 billion online, an increase of 17.7% compared to 2018’s takings.

And what’s perhaps even more encouraging for online retailers in 2020 is the estimated $75bn in total sales for Alibaba from this year’s Singles Day (the huge shopping holiday in China that takes place on November 11). That figure is double that of last year, providing hope that this Black Friday could be the best ever.

Looking at online conversations using our Consumer Research platform, we’ve found that early hype for the event confirms the idea that we’re moving towards a record-breaking Cyber Five. Initial mentions of Black Friday in the first two weeks of November were 165% higher in 2020 than the average volumes of 2017, 2018 and 2019 in the same period.

These are all encouraging stats for online retailers, but what’s driving the great expectations? How have consumer shopping preferences shifted since last year?

Consumer needs have changed considerably

Last year when we looked at Black Friday and Cyber Monday conversation on social media we found that many consumers wanted to use their purchasing power for local and independent stores. Some wanted to completely avoid the event for environmental reasons.

In 2020, people are continuing to be mindful of supporting local and independent businesses. We found 63k mentions of this relating to Cyber Five events on social media, and it’s something we’ve seen throughout the pandemic. But sentiments towards the environment appear to be different this year. While we found 65k mentions from people concerned about the environmental impact of the shopping holiday from October 1 to November 17 2020, this is a 73% decrease compared to mention volumes over the same period in 2019.

Instead, consumers are focussed on competitive deals this year and starting their holiday shopping early. In conversations around Black Friday we found people discussing savings (134k mentions), prices (137k mentions), delivery options (150k mentions), and early preparation for the festive season (163k mentions), on social media.

That said, brick and mortar stores open for the shopping holiday shouldn’t expect a huge Black Friday boom. We found 235k mentions from people who had taken to online sales because they either didn’t feel comfortable shopping in store or were subject to stay-at-home orders.

Consumers have great expectations around shipping in 2020. We found 42k mentions of one-day shipping, 99k mentions of Amazon because of its quick shipping, and another 84k mentions in relation to the cost of shipping.

Cyber Monday mentions are lower than those of Black Friday, but next generation games consoles are a huge driver in this conversation.

Wrapping up

This year’s festivities will, more than likely, be much different to what we’re all used to. People are making the most of these shopping holidays to prepare for an extremely busy delivery period in advance, to avoid going into stores, and to save some money in the process.

All this adds up to a potentially massive result for online businesses with great Black Friday deals and convenient shipping options.

If you’d like to know more about this data, drop us a line [email protected], or DM us on twitter, @BWReact.

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