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Online Trends

Published February 6th 2020

How to Win the Seasonal Sales, According to Social

We’ve looked at 10 years of social data to find out what consumers want in the busiest retail periods of the year

As January starts to wrap up, so ends the season of sales.

It’s been a big year – according to the National Retail Federation, holiday retail sales grew during 2019 by 4.1% over the same period in 2018, to $730.2 billion.

Retail is cyclical and spending habits around the festive period are higher than any other point in the year, owing to sales events. But how can you stand out from the crowd to consumers, and make the most from the sale season?

Using Brandwatch Consumer Research, observing global data in English from 1 July 2010 to 19 Jan 2020, we looked at:

  • Singles Day
  • Black Friday
  • Cyber Monday
  • Boxing Day
  • January Sales

Read on to find out which was the most positively perceived online by consumers, and why.

Singles Day

Singles Day trails on English speaking social media, with just 195K mentions in the period we studied of the Chinese shopping day that celebrates single life.

But, of course, lack of English language mentions does not mean a lack of people interested worldwide! The annual event for lonely hearts is now four times bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two biggest shopping dates in the US calendar.

For extra context, Alibaba sales hit $1 billion after one minute and eight seconds and reached 158.31bn yuan ($22.6bn) in the first nine hours of 2019’s Singles Day – that’s up 25% from the same point last year, reports The Guardian.

Of sentiment categorized conversation, 70% was positive about the event and 30% was negative. Negativity stemmed from western users being annoyed that they couldn’t access the incredible deals, and there were some concerns about the environmental impact of the festivities.

Looking at the gender breakdown of those mentions, men were more likely to interact with the event online, (56% of gender categorized authors were male). In particular, we found that the topics they are most hyped about are Alibaba and sportswear brands like Nike and Adidas. Meanwhile, women were more interested in candy and beauty products.

Boxing Day Sales

The UK-oriented Boxing Day sales got 554K mentions on social, and had some of the most positive conversation of all the sales we studied (at 76% compared to 24% negative conversation).

This year, shoppers loved being able to grab bargains online rather than traipsing to shopping centres – a large chunk of the social conversation mentioned online shopping.

Men were more likely to mention the Boxing Day sales on social, with TVs and clothing being big hits among them. Women were most likely to mention Lush’s legendary sale, clothes, and phones.

January Sales

We found 216K mentions of the January Sales on social from 1 July 2010 to 19 January 2020. Despite a comparatively low volume of social conversation about January sales online (when compared to big one day events like Black Friday), positivity in the conversation was high (at 76%, compared to 24% negative mentions).

Negativity tended to focus on perceptions of the price of items not being as low as they used to be, or retailers not holding events like previous years.

Women were more active online about the January Sales (54% of gender categorized authors were women), and they spoke a lot about Apple products and laptops. Men were more likely to mention TVs and gaming. While the numbers aren’t as big as in Cyber Monday conversations, it seems like January Sales are a good time to revive those tech sales.

Cyber Monday

Speaking of tech sales, Cyber Monday was the second most popular sale on social (in terms of mention volume), as of this year.

We found 3.6 million mentions of Cyber Monday on social overall, which were 71% positive, and 29% negative (a ratio better than Black Friday’s).

Women were just about more likely than men to chat about Cyber Monday online (52% of gender categorized authors were female).

Alongside the predictable trends in the conversation, like iPhones, both men and women were talking about fashion brands – perhaps an odd choice for Cyber Monday.

Black Friday

Black Friday was the most discussed sale on social from 1 July 2010 to 19 January 2020, with 59.5 million mentions in this period.

But a lot of mentions don’t always mean a lot of interest – especially if sentiment is negative. Black Friday is actually one of the most negatively discussed sales in our study: 36% negative, compared to 64% positive.

Looking at that negative conversation, key topics tended to be around concern for workers in the busy period.

Women were slightly more likely to mention Black Friday online than men (52% of gender categorized authors were women), and we found they were mentioning large store and e-commerce brands’ sales a lot, while men seemed to focus specifically on tech items. Clearly, waiting for Cyber Monday isn’t for everyone!

Seasonal Sale Mentions

Brandwatch Consumer Research | 19 January 2020

Conclusion

The sale period from November spanning into January is one of the most profitable times for retailers. But the key to success for individual brands is understanding where to fit in amongst the competition. By learning from consumer conversations, brands can identify unexpected opportunities they might not have already considered.

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