Black Friday and Beyond: November’s Global Shopping Events
With the end of the year approaching, many consumers are already thinking about taking advantage of the many shopping events taking place in different corners of the world in November. From the US to APAC, many are looking to finish their holiday shopping in advance, buy that special present at a discounted price or simply treat themselves.
For brands, meanwhile, it’s one of the busiest periods of the year, during which attracting as many consumers as possible — no matter what language they speak — becomes crucial to make the most of retail’s ‘Golden Quarter’. For businesses, the shopping events of November not only mean the unofficial beginning of the Christmas period, but also signal a great opportunity for expansion both locally and abroad.
So, which are some of the biggest shopping days brands need to prepare for in November? (This list is not exhaustive.)
Perhaps one of the most well-known shopping events worldwide, Black Friday takes place in the US on the Friday after Thanksgiving, observed on the fourth Thursday of November, and has expanded into a range of different markets in Europe, APAC and Latin America. The last big shopping day before Christmas, Black Friday has turned into a large-scale event with the years, with physical retailers from a range of industries opening earlier than usual, extending their hours of operations and launching special deals in advance. While it was a traditionally mainly offline event, Black Friday has become increasingly big online, a move that was accelerated further by the Covid-19 pandemic: last year, US consumers spent $9 billion online, almost 22% more compared to 2019.
Hot on the heels of Black Friday comes Cyber Monday, held on the Monday following Black Friday (which means it occasionally falls on the first few days of December). This is a purely digital event that has crossed over to several other markets, which also celebrate it or hold similar events with the same name. In 2020, US consumers spent a record $10.8 billion on this day, with smartphones accounting for 37% of all sales.
Created by Chinese university students in the 1990s, Singles' Day is the unofficial holiday to celebrate people who are not in a relationship — consider it the 'Anti-Valentine’s Day'. It falls on 11 November, or 11/11, with the date especially honouring the single life thanks to being entirely made of ones. In 2009, ecommerce giant Alibaba put a commercial spin on the day when it launched a 24-hour event with special discounts and promotions on its marketplaces. Since then, the day has evolved into a massive shopping event — the largest in the world — that generates billions in revenues. In 2020, when the event turned into a shopping festival lasting for days, Alibaba reported approximately $75 billion in sales.
El Buen Fin
Inspired by the US’s Black Friday, Mexico began celebrating El Buen Fin in 2011 as a way to boost the economy. It takes place every year on the weekend before Revolution Day (observed on the third Monday of November), with discounts and deals offered in both digital and bricks-and-mortar shops. Just like other shopping events around the world, it has lately been extended, so that the event lasts for longer than just a weekend.
A solid opportunity for ecommerce brands
While during most shopping events special discounts and promotions happen both in physical and digital stores, the Covid-19 pandemic tilted the scales in favour of online shopping: in the UK, for example, 70% of consumers now say that buying online and on mobile phones has become their preferred method to shop, compared to less than 50% prior to the Covid-19 era. Likewise, nearly 60% of digital consumers in Mexico said they planned to shop online rather than in-store for this year’s Buen Fin.
For e-retailers, this growth of digital channels has meant that now more than ever there is opportunity to expand their business beyond the limits of their own market or language, especially during shopping events that have an increasingly marked online component. But to have global success, brands need to ensure they have an optimised localisation strategy in place to connect effectively with their different target audiences across the world. After all, according to CSA Research, 40% of consumers won’t buy from websites that are not in their own language.
To effectively localise their website or page to global audiences, brands need a multilevel approach that covers a broad range of elements. On the purely linguistic front, the first thing is to use the right language or language variant for the target audience. Localisation is all about creating a familiar environment that invites consumers to browse and shop your site, so you want to make sure you capture all the local linguistic nuances to achieve it. Think about how different Spanish and Mexican Spanish sound: these differences are not simply about accents, but also include preferred words, idioms and expressions, which are key in building an authentic shopping experience. This also means that consumers from different locales are using different keywords to get to your page and products — even when there is a shared language (chips vs crisps, anyone?). Hence, your SEO strategy also needs to be adapted and refined to reflect these variations and to make sure you are connecting with the right audience.
Unlike direct translation, localisation goes beyond language and considers extralinguistic aspects including the broader context of the target language, adapting content to ensure it fits harmoniously with the cultural and social setting, as well as with native traditions, preferences and usages. A joke about Bonfire Night may not hit close to home to those outside the UK, and details such as date formats and units of measure can stand out to a user when not in the formats they are accustomed to seeing. Similarly, design-related components, like colour palettes, visuals and logos, need to be considered as well to avoid being unintentionally offensive or inappropriate.
In cases where content needs further work to be impactful in a new market, transcreation and content creation can help bridge the gap by either adapting the original content with more creative freedom or creating completely new pieces especially tailored to the specific audience. For example, if you are a US-based beauty brand looking to expand to APAC, you might want to consider key trends and preferences impacting what consumers in this region want when it comes to content from brands, such as a guide to the benefits of snail cream.
During events such as Black Friday or Singles' Day, when countless other retailers are putting out special deals, offering local audiences an end-to-end localised experienced can make all the difference between having consumers stay on your site or exploring your competitors’ discounts. Planning a careful and considerate localisation strategy early on will mean your website is ready for the next ecommerce event, avoiding headaches down the line.
At THG Fluently we work with native-to-market linguists to ensure you have the right words and tools to communicate effectively and confidently with your target audience, no matter what their native language is. For nearly two decades we’ve been helping e-retailers of all shapes and sizes scale their operations to international markets. So, when it comes to getting your brand ready for the next big shopping event, get in touch to learn more about our ecommerce services and find out what we can do to make your site an international success.