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Nov 13, 2019 | 5 minute read

How to Create a Black Friday Discount Strategy That Fits Your Business

written by Alex McPeak


When it comes to Black Friday, marketers often assume that the more they can offer as a discount, the merrier the customer. 

But that's not always the case, and oftentimes companies can be missing out on profit when they offer more than they need to. Not to mention, giving out too high of a discount can devalue your brand and product to new customers, who you'll be wanting to attract and retain this holiday season.

Rather than slapping a 75% off site-wide promotion on your homepage, blasting it out to your entire email list, and calling it a day, you may want to put a little more thought and consideration into your discount strategy this holiday season. 

Take the following companies for example, and note how they adjusted their discounts based on their business model.  

  1. Subscription Businesses

    rent the runwayRent the Runway provides an Unlimited subscription that allows members to rent luxury styles every month. Rented articles of clothing and accessories can also be bought by members for a discounted price. This year, Rent the Runway is experimenting with a sale that’s targeted towards members only. The “mystery sale” will feature price drops on the items customers have at home, which means that once they rent a piece, they may be able to buy it at a significantly cheaper price than usual.    In the subscription economy, the name of the game is retention -- businesses like Rent the Runway must find ways to keep subscribers and avoid churn.  On Black Friday, this presents an especially difficult challenge for subscription businesses, as they must effectively come up with campaigns for acquiring new members, as well as enticing current ones.  Rent the Runway expertly navigates their customer base with this unique campaign that doesn’t give too much away, so that current members are encouraged to continue renting throughout the holiday season.
  2. Limited Product ECommerceOral care company quip has a limited number of products for sale online, with their hero product being their electric toothbrush, which normally sells for $40. Presumably the issue for quip is increasing customers’ AOV by also getting them to buy a starter kit or sign up for a refill plan. On Black Friday, quip used the opportunity to upsell customers into buying products they may not have bought otherwise. Instead of offering a general 20% off coupon, they offer 20% off of orders $65 or more, which means that customers can only use the coupon if they purchase a prepaid plan or one of the starter kits. This is a smart move for the brand that ultimately wants to be seen as the go-to online store for consumers dental hygiene needs.  Not to mention, it’s a great retention play considering it encourages customers to consider monthly refills, rather than just giving them a discount on a one-time purchase. This way, quip can maintain themselves as part of customers’ daily habits throughout the year.  Image 2 - Quip.jpg
  3. High-Priced ECommerceEcommerce shops that sell products that are more expensive have to be strategic about their discounts, especially during Black Friday -- they can’t just offer 50% off sitewide when most of their products are upwards of $1000. Mattress company Casper instead offered $150 off to any customers making purchases of $1000 or more. While this is similar to quip’s strategy at first glance, it’s a little better suited for a company with more expensive inventory. Not only does the high dollar discount register as a good deal to customers (who doesn’t want to save $150?), but it also ensures that Casper isn’t losing out on their profits during the busiest shopping day of the year. Additionally, it encourages shoppers that might only be stopping by for a some bedding to browse their higher priced items. Even if they aren’t in the market for a mattress or a bed frame, the deal gives them an incentive to consider making a more pricey purchase.Image 2.jpg
  4. Regulated Industries

When you’re in a regulated ecommerce industry like CBD, alcohol, or firearms, it can be tricky to create a cohesive web experience when laws are different according to state and country. This becomes even more challenging on Black Friday, where businesses will want to take part in the discounting extravaganza, but still need to make sure they’re complying with regulations.

Last year, one-hour alcohol delivery app Drizly offered $5 off any purchase for Black Friday. This small discount might not be effective for every business, but it’s a jackpot to Drizly customers who regularly deal with extra delivery fees. 

However, while Drizly is available in over 100 markets, according to the website, the deal was limited to only 22 US states. This is likely because, due to certain regulations, some markets can only participate in Drizly’s ground shipping, rather than their on-demand delivery. 

In order for the promotion to work, Drizly had to make sure the code only registered on the website in certain areas. Additionally, in their Black Friday campaign management, it was important that they only sent out these promotions to consumers in states that were qualified to use the promo code, as to not make false promises to shoppers thirsty for a good deal.


You can’t have a set it and forget it mindset when it comes to your Black Friday discount strategy. 

In order to be the most lucrative for your bottom line and gratifying to your customers during the biggest ecommerce shopping days of the year, it takes a complete understanding of your business -- what products you sell and how many, what their price points are, and who your customers are. 

Once you curate a Black Friday sale that centers around your business model and your customers as these brands have, you’ll find more success in acquiring new customers this holiday season and retaining them in the months to come.




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