Black Friday Examples (100+ brands analyzed to help you make better decisions)

Nov 18, 2021 | Ecommerce

10 min read

Since Black Friday is right around the corner, we thought it would be a good idea to dive into how brands handled BFCM marketing in 2020 and curate a handy list of strategies, tactics, and Black Friday examples to inspire you.

We’re breaking this down into several categories:

  • Sale Tactics
  • Discount Strategies
  • Shipping & Returns Policy
  • Payment Methods
  • Promo Code Types
  • CTA Examples
  • Design Inspiration

You’ll also notice a [TRY NOW] next to some strategies or examples which means it’s low effort and can be implemented right away! 

Sale Tactics

Black Friday campaigns have two main goals – acquisition and lift in sales.

Over the years, retailers have created marketing techniques to help them attract new consumers and increase overall sales on Black Friday.

#1. Early Access

Offering early access is a popular strategy most brands use. We studied Black Friday over the last 4 years and it’s clear that Black Friday is no longer a one-day event or a 4-day event that extends to Cyber Monday — it spans over an entire month.

Why this works:

Brands have an opportunity to drum up more attention to support closing on big-ticket sales on Black Friday. It also gives them ample time to test their messaging and CTAs before the big event.

And, it’s useful to space out online shopping to prevent site crashes from overload.

Who did it?

ABLE, a slow fashion brand, greeted visitors with early access well ahead of Black Friday.

Early Access Black Friday Strategy: Able

In 2021, ABLE is continuing its streak, giving users early access with a similar discount (We’ll get to that in a bit!)

Early Access - a Black Friday sale tactic (2021)

#2. Site-wide sale

A popular holiday sales strategy retailers implement is to offer site-wide sales, with discounts on everything.

Why this works:

A sitewide sales promotes more shopping and helps acquire new customers. Segmentation – showing offers based on the customer persona – is a great tactic and can be used (as you’ll see below).

But consumer behavior shows that they’re willing to purchase. Facebook’s holiday report also shows that consumers look forward to Mega Sale Days like Black Friday. 

So segmentation for a majority of retailers is irrelevant.

Who did it?

Alternative Apparel, Anthropologie, Bobbi Brown, Boden…the list goes on. 

From the 100+ brands analyzed, fashion and beauty retailers are more likely to offer site-wide sales.

Site-wide sale: Holiday sale strategy 2021

#3. Specific products/collections on sale

Unlike site-wide sales, specific products or collections help move either old stock or slow moving inventory. 

Why this works:

The paradox of choice stipulates that too many choices can leave consumers feeling overwhelmed and ultimately unhappy with the choice they make  so they don’t make any choice at all. And that’s not good for brands trying to maximize sales. 

Specific products or collections, if curated, make it easier for consumers to shop and increase satisfaction. 

Who did it?

FILA, Converse, and Escada.

Limited sale: Black Friday marketing strategy

#5. Shop early | Get it on time

Retailers use this tactic to motivate shoppers to start their Black Friday shopping ahead of time to guarantee they  receive their products in time for the holidays. 

Why this works:

Facebook’s holiday report found that consumers seek big ticket items on Mega Sale Days like Black Friday and with surging demand year-over-year, shipping delays are inevitable. 

As it gets closer to Black Friday, some products might see an ongoing price drop. But since shoppers are keen on having their products arrive earlier, they’re willing to pay more instead of waiting for potential price drops, increasing the profit margins for retailers.

#4. [TRY NOW] VIP Access

VIP access is another version of early access. Instead of offering it to everyone, it’s offered to a select group of consumers that meet a certain LTV (lifetime value) or have signed up to a loyalty program. 

Why this works:

VIP access can make your Black Friday sale feel more exclusive. It invokes FOMO in customers that might be likely to check out your loyalty programs and work their way up.

It emulates the rush shoppers experienced when most Black Friday shopping occurred offline and early entrants were more likely to get better deals.

Who’s doing it?

Shark, a house-care brand, is offering VIP access to its Black Friday Sale with a neat countdown timer to increase urgency.

VIP Access: Black Friday 2021 marketing example

#5. Shop early | Get it on time

Retailers use this tactic to motivate shoppers to start their Black Friday shopping ahead of time to guarantee they receive their products in time for the holidays. 

Why this works:

Facebook’s holiday report found that consumers seek big-ticket items on Mega Sale Days like Black Friday and with surging demand year-over-year, shipping delays are inevitable. 

As it gets closer to Black Friday, some products might see an ongoing price drop. But since shoppers are keen on having their products arrive earlier, they’re willing to pay more instead of waiting for potential price drops, increasing the profit margins for retailers.

#6. Rename Black Friday

Some brands go so far as to rename Black Friday to stand out from competitors. 

Why this works:

It’s easier to get noticed in a crowded space and good wordplay can help the brand’s image.

Who did it?

Boden renamed Black Friday to Technicolour Friday Event in 2020. 

Black Friday Example: Boden renames Black Friday

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Anti-Black Friday campaigns. Now, this isn’t a sales or marketing tactic. Brands like Pantagonia, Deciem, Allbirds reject hyper-consumerism that’s come to be associated with Black Friday. Instead, they encourage their shoppers to do some “slow shopping”, even shutting down their sites or encouraging visitors to take a break and be one with nature.

Discount Strategies

Without a doubt, discounts are a subset of acquisition & sales but it’s important to talk about it separately since there are many ways to go about it.

#1. Massive Discounts

True to the original nature of Black Friday, some brands offer massive price drops to entice customers. 

Why this works:

Dirt-cheap prices are what most people associate Black Friday with. So by catering to those expectations, it’s easier to acquire customers and lift sales. 

You might want to couple this with sales on specific products only or run it for a limited period.

Who did it?

ASOS offered up to 70% off everything. While some products had a smaller discount, keeping the 70% front and center caught shoppers attention inviting more sales. 

Massive Discounts: Black Friday Marketing Strategy

#2. Student discount

Brands targeting a younger demographic benefit from offering student discounts. Most student discounts run all year with additional percentage discounts during Black Friday. 

Why this works:

This is a straightforward strategy that helps brands acquire more of their target audience and upsell to them once they’ve tried their products. 

Who did it?

Missguided, a youth fashion brand, offered students an additional 15% discount during Black Friday.

Black Friday Example - Missguided offers student discounts

#3. Percentage Discounts

Businesses offer flat or % discount ranges on either specific products or site-wide. 

Why this works:

Consumers tend to view percentage discounts as more valuable than static price drops. For instance, 20% off $250 is only a $50 price reduction but it sounds much better. 

Who did it?

Morphe, Nike, Neutrogena – you name it, they did it. This is a popular strategy across verticals. 

Black Friday Strategy: Nike offers percentage discounts

#4. [TRY NOW] Timed discounts 

Retailers offer two kinds of timed discounts. One where the discounts go up leading to Black Friday or the reverse where discounts are bigger early on to increase early sales. 

Why this works:

The fear of missing out and anticipation are excellent purchase motivators

#5. Buy one, get one free [BOGO]

BOGO is a tried and tested strategy but it can be implemented in many creative ways.

  • Buy one, get another item at a discount
  • Buy three, get two free
  • Buy three, get three free (lowest priced items are free)

Why this works:

Two is better than one. Consumers are drawn to the idea of getting a good deal. For brands, this is the perfect opportunity to increase average order value (AOV), clear slow-moving stock, and bundle products together. 

Who did it?

Bath & body works invited shoppers to mix and match the whole store offering Buy 3, Get 3 offering a discount on the 3 lower-priced products. 

BOGO strategy: Black Friday Example from Bath and Body Works

#6. Free gift with purchase

Offering freebies during the holiday sales season can take shape in many forms – 

  • A free gift that arrives with the order
  • Customer chooses their free gift with order
  • Conditional free gift: Offered when order exceeds a certain value

Why this works:

Small gifts work wonders for customer loyalty and conversion. It helps introduce customers to new products by including a sample. Neutrogena did that by offering conditional free samples on orders that exceeded a minimum value.

Who did it?

Bobbi Brown, the skin and makeup brand, offered a conditional free gift when customers purchased products that exceeded $75 in value. 

Offer free gift with purchase - Black Friday Example from Bobbi Brown

#7. Zero discounts. Gift Guides

Most luxury brands don’t offer discounts on their products. Instead, they curate a holiday gift guide. 

Why this works:

Studies show that higher prices means higher quality in consumers’ minds. That is why it’s unlikely to see luxury brands run any kind of discount even during peak sale season. 

They do get in the holiday spirit and curate holiday gift guides — an idea all brands can borrow. Since people do holiday shopping for other people, a gift guide takes the pressure off and increases the chances that they’ll make a purchase. 

How consumers planned to spend during Black Friday

Grab our Black Friday report for more insights

Who did it?

Armani, Burberry, Cartier among other luxury brands offer no discounts but dove into the holiday mood with copy and design changes. 

Luxury brand BFCM strategy - Gift Guides

Shipping & returns policy

A brand’s shipping and return policy during the holiday season impacts purchase decisions significantly. Here’s what major retailers offer during BFCM –  

#1. Free Shipping 

Free shipping is an enticing offer for consumers especially if the prices have deterred them in the past. 

Why this works:

If the cost of shipping is absorbed in the cost of the product, free shipping helps customers rationalize big ticket items which helps ecommerce brands sell more and increase AOV.

Alternatively, consider conditional free shipping – offering free shipping on certain products or if the cart value exceeds a certain amount. This can push slow-moving inventory and help brands maintain their profit margins.

Who did it?

Anthropologie offered conditional free shipping on orders exceeding $50 in value to its customers during Black Friday last year. 

Free Shipping: BFCM strategy example

#2. Free express shipping

Brands also offer express shipping to promote their deals.

Why this works:

The fear of not having products delivered on time is enough for consumers to seek out brands offering express shipping for free. 

#3. Free returns

Free returns is a popular way to increase acquisitions during the sale season. 

Why this works:

Purchasing products online comes with an element of risk. Offering free returns eliminates risk and encourages shoppers to buy knowing they can always return an item.

#3. Extended returns

Many brands offer extended returns further eliminating the risk of purchase. 

Why this works:

Starting in November, the holiday season lasts till New Years which is a pretty hectic time for everyone. Free returns with conditions may not put a consumer’s mind at ease, especially if it’s a luxury item.

Who did it?
Cartier offered extended returns for products purchased between November 1st to Dec 31st, 2020 all the way up to January 15th, 2021.

Cartier's Black Friday Strategy: Extended Returns

#4. Possible shipping delays

Letting customers know ahead of time that there may be shipping delays is actually a great way to get them to shop earlier. 

Why this works:

This gets shoppers to plan their purchases ahead of time, sometimes giving up higher discounts and even paying a fee for express shipping.

Who did it?

Drunk Elephant added a banner about possible delays and reminded shoppers to shop early.

Drunk Elephant communicates shipping delays

Payment Options

Multiple payment options influence purchase decisions, especially for luxury and higher-priced items.

#1. Buy now, pay later

Brands promote options like Afterpay via Klarna, Quadpay, and a myriad of options to make it easier for shoppers to purchase. 

#2. eWallets and mobile wallets

Partnerships with eWallets or mobile wallets are a great co-marketing strategy to boost sales. 

#3. Bitcoin

With decentralized currency going viral, several brands have started accepting payments in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Promo Code Types

We’ve mainly seen two kinds of promo codes – a string of numbers and/or letters and festive-themed promo codes.

#1. Regular promo codes

Your regular, run-of-the-mill promo codes can be copied and pasted during checkout.  

#2. [TRY NOW] Festive promo codes

Does it matter if your promo code is just a string of letters and numbers?

Understand the buying process is not linear. Your offer may be viewed on social media first and then in their inbox. Easy-to-remember festive-themed codes encourage users to purchase. Estee Lauder, for example, used code – FRIDAY2020 – on their site during Black Friday 2020.

Festive Promo Code: Black Friday Example from Estee Lauder


[TRY NOW] CTA Examples

Here’s a list of CTAs brands used last year. The right call-to-action can easily improve conversions. Run A/B tests to find out what resonates with your audience.

  • SHOP NOW (Most popular)
  • SHOP GIFTS FOR HER/HIM
  • GIFT GUIDE
  • SHOP ALL
  • DISCOVER THE CAMPAIGN
  • SHOP BLACK FRIDAY
  • SHOP THE DEAL
  • SHOP & SAVE
  • FIND YOUR FAVORITE
  • SHOP DOORBUSTERS
  • EXPLORE
  • SHOP FIRST
  • EARLY ACCESS
  • VIP ACCESS
  • SHOP [Product Name]
  • SHOP THE SALE
  • BESTSELLERS
  • SHOP STEALS
  • FIND OUT MORE

Design Inspiration

Regardless of which strategy brands use, one thing is common – holiday-themed designs. 

Use our tool to check out industry-specific examples you can incorporate.

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