Despite economic turbulence, 66% of consumers say that they are going to still shop for quality and sustainability this peak season, rather than looking for low-cost impulse purchases. They will, however, be buying as much as they can during the Black Friday period to get bargains.
According to the Shopify Black Friday Cyber Monday Report – a study of more than 2,000 consumers and 1,000 SMEs in the UK – there is a marked shift away from “stack them high, sell them cheap” towards high-quality, durable products. It also highlights how customers want to stay connected to the brands they love, even if they’re not currently in a position to buy.
42% of shoppers say that they are cautious about spending, driven by the cost-of-living crisis, the recent interest rate rise by the Bank of England and expectations of a protracted recession. As a result, 78% have reduced their disposable spending this holiday season – the third highest proportion globally – and almost half (49%) are putting more money aside this year than they have done previously (varying from 68% of Gen Z to just 30% of those aged over 65).
However, as considered consumers seek more bang for their buck this year, 65% are more likely to do the majority of their holiday shopping during Black Friday Cyber Monday to get more value for money, while39% are doing so to get ahead of further price increases as the expected recession starts to bite. This rises to 64% amongst Gen Z (18-24s).
Considered bargain hunting is key for 84% of consumers who plan to compare prices to find the best discounts – a canny consumer behaviour which actually increases with wealth, with those with a household income of £35,000 and above are the most likely to be seeking the best possible value for money spent (at 87%).
Searching for quality
However, alongside consumers’ desire for value is quality. Shoppers want quality products built to last. 66% are looking to spend money on higher quality products that will last a long time and a further 35% are planning to spend on days out, such as to amusements or paid events.
Nicholas Dellaportas, founder of Taylor Morris Eyewear, comments: “Never before have we seen the cost of living impact absolutely everybody. For us, it means that getting the offer right has never been more important. Taylor Morris provides luxury eyewear, but we pride ourselves on being accessible. We’re exploring new ways that customers can buy in a budget-friendly way, such as offering prescription glasses on a subscription model basis and also adding more support services, like adapting existing lenses when a prescription changes.”
Shimona Mehta, Managing Director, EMEA at Shopify adds: “The key sales season from Black Friday onwards will be pivotal for millions of businesses, this year more than ever. The focus for consumers is now on quality over quantity, for the right price. Half (49%) of shoppers intend to spend the same or more than previous years, and many have saved up to do so. Businesses need to respond to this sentiment, offer deals for high quality products and give true value to their communities.”
No compromise on sustainability
Despite the squeeze on household budgets, consumers aren’t budging on their sustainable values; 52% said they already shop sustainably – such as seeking out carbon-neutral shipping options – and the same percentage say they’re planning on shopping from sustainable brands or buying sustainable products – such as those with a ‘low or no waste’ approach to production – when shopping this Black Friday Cyber Monday.
Regardless of the impending expectation of a recession, 81% of UK businesses said that their sustainability efforts won’t be derailed by surging inflation, a rate 2% higher than the global average. The majority (92%) are planning to invest in sustainable initiatives over the next twelve months, and are mindful of their impact on the environment
The good news is that there are options that give a boost to the bottom line whilst simultaneously bolstering environmentally friendly efforts. Nearly two in three (62%) UK consumers are willing to wait longer for a product to arrive if it lowers its total footprint, and four in ten (40%) are willing to pay more for sustainable products.
Communication is key
The study also finds that UK consumers are open to new experiences and are willing to shop via online and social platforms more than ever. Nine in ten (91%) shoppers say they are just as likely or more likely to shop in an online store than a year ago, 88% are purchasing the same or more in store and 72% are just as likely or more likely to discover new products to purchase when scrolling through social media than a year ago.
Furthermore, consumers are receptive to direct contact from businesses, with 66% saying it’s important that brands communicate with them about Black Friday Cyber Monday offers. 72% (7% higher than the global average) are willing to buy a rival brand’s product to save money, with 42% saying they would do so for a superior product. A quarter of respondents (27%) would in order to get access to potential exclusive discounts, shows that regular communication is vital with British shoppers
Eva Sonaike of luxury interiors brand Eva Sonaike says: “We’ve seen a decrease in sales in the UK, particularly in the last five months. Interestingly, though, the decrease in sales has not meant a decrease in contact. Instagram engagement particularly is at a high, as customers want to stay in touch with the brand – and specifically the people behind it – even if they can’t buy right now. In straitened times, the tone of the sales season will be different this year. For us, that means any promotion we run will give something back, by partnering with a charity and giving them a share of any income from flash sales.”
Businesses are recognising this shift. 93% of businesses believe it’s paramount to build a direct relationship with customers. Nearly half (45%) in the UK say reaching consumers organically via word of mouth on social media is more important than ever and a third (33%) are investing in improvements in and implementation of digital infrastructure to do more online sales to ensure future resilience.
Mehta concludes: “Since smartphones came into our hands, people don’t go shopping any more, we are shopping all of the time. The high street is also still critically important to consumers, with 9 in 10 planning to shop in store. The businesses that will be resilient for the long term are those that enable customers to shop from wherever they already are. We’re seeing brands like Gymshark open huge new flagship stores to serve customers online and on the high street. This research shows that consumers want to spend but will research longer and take more consideration over where and how they spend. Brands should take note, and factor that into how they engage ahead of this key time.”