Who saw the biggest spike in brand demand around Black Friday? We used Google search data to analyse more than 100 fashion, beauty, tech, supermarket and department store brands to find out.
Brands pulled out all the stops to gain momentum on the lead up to Black Friday this year, but only some stayed firmly front-of-mind as shoppers searched for deals online.
As strong indicators of awareness and competitive relevance, brand searches can tell us a lot about the overall health of a brand, how well its marketing strategy is performing, and even the sector as a whole. When people search for a company by name, it’s generally due to pre-existing awareness and intention, and on big sale days like Black Friday, brand searches are an extremely valuable stream of traffic.
To identify who saw the biggest spike in brand demand around Black Friday, we categorised more than 100 brands into fashion, beauty, tech, supermarket and department stores, then used Google search data to compare performance year on year. The results reveal a tough market overall and a great performance from a few standouts.
Tough Year for Department Stores
- Times are tough for department stores, and this is reflected in our data
- Of the top five stores with the highest search volume, only one saw an increase in brand demand
- Black Friday included discounts across products of up to 60%
This is not the year for department stores. We’ve seen it in the media as titans like Debenhams, House of Fraser and John Lewis all made the headlines for profit warnings, staff reductions and closing stores. With a tough market, changing consumer habits, a surge in online shopping and millennials even being accused of killing the department store, these are challenging times for retailers overall.
The state of the market is reflected in our Black Friday data, with only four out of ten brands seeing an increase in demand this year. Media reports showed empty streets in the UK last week as more people chose to shop online, and with anticipated stampedes not quite coming to fruition at many shopping centres, increased competition online and lack of feet in-store made it tough for retailers to cut through the noise.
Interesting to note is that high-end department stores such as Harvey Nichols and Liberty performed very well, with a 1% and 3% increase in brand demand respectively.
More Than Half of Fashion Brands Saw a Decline
- Almost 40 fashion brands saw a drop in brand demand in the run-up to Black Friday
- Of the top 10 brands with the highest search volume, only three saw a positive uplift
- Fashion brands offered up to 70% off in some cases, the highest of any category
Very few of the fast fashion culprits saw significant growth this year. While behemoths Next and John Lewis are still far ahead of the rest regarding volume, there is no doubting the trajectory of some of the smaller brands.
Quiz has done notably well with a 19% increase – great performance despite news that their largest store outlet, House of Fraser, allegedly owe them a substantial about of money. Regarding average searches, New Look and ASOS are on even ground, with both seeing a double-digit decline in brand demand this Black Friday.
Brands such as Monki, North Face and Stradivarius are doing better on their own than their biggest store partner – ASOS – which shows crystal clear focus on their own brands this year that has clearly paid off.
Beauty Brands Evenly Split on Brand Demand
- The number of beauty brands who saw an increase outweighs the ones who didn’t this year
- Of the top 10 beauty brands with the highest search volume, half saw a positive uplift
- Brands offered up free gifts and between 15 – 40% off as incentive this year
Beauty outlets like Feel Unique, BeautyBay and Get the Gloss didn’t perform as well as expected this year, seeing a decrease of 43% for the first two and 37% for the latter. Despite the massive variety, we saw own brands perform far better in terms of brand demand.
Of the top ten beauty brands with the highest search volume, five performed exceptionally well, and all saw increases in brand demand during Black Friday.
Particularly noteworthy is Drunk Elephant. Brand awareness campaigns and extensive media coverage to build anticipation did the trick. Despite having no offer this year, the brand still performed exceptionally well in its first year in the UK, seeing an 800% increase in brand demand and outperforming parent brand Sephora.
Top Four Saw a Decline in Tech & Goods
- Amazon, Argos, Game and Halfords all saw a decrease in brand demand
- We saw pockets of stellar performance from some brands in this category
- No blanket deals but offers across a curated list of high-tech goods and smart products
None of the brands in the electrical category offered blanket discounts this year, choosing to offer discounts across a curated list of high-demand items. Some of the most popular include the Nintendo Switch, PS4, Google Home Mini, Amazon Echo Dot, smart lights and smart products from Hive and Nest.
Despite the massive popularity of tech offers during Black Friday, the top four brands in the category with the highest search volume all saw a slight decline in brand demand compared to last year. AO outperformed most tech & goods brands this Black Friday with a 16% increase – the highest in the category.
Budget Supermarkets Outperform the Rest
- With four brands seeing a decrease against six who saw a rise in brand demand, supermarket brands are fairly evenly split this year when it comes to performance
- Budget supermarkets raised the bar this year
- No blanket deals but offers across vast product offerings
Budget supermarkets were the ones to beat this year, with Aldi, Iceland and Lidl all seeing double-digit growth in brand demand. These smaller powerhouses were able to compete with larger stores by offering high-end products at budget prices – think award-winning gin, sheepskin slippers, Nutribullets and Jo Malone dupe candles at a steal. With a few offering higher discounts on tech products than some tech stores were able to, they successfully competed with bigger contenders and even beat out the likes of Waitrose.
We didn’t see a lot of blanket discounts across supermarket brands again this year. Waitrose (in true style) captured shopper attention by giving away free champagne with their Black Friday deals, while Iceland offered prizes to entice shoppers.
Tescos is a significant story with a standout 30% decrease in brand demand. How one of the biggest brands in the UK saw such a steep decline in brand demand (and poor performance against rivals) despite its sheer size and offering, is something worth investigating further.
Reverse the Effects of Slipping Brand Demand
Working to improve brand demand is paramount for brands. In the last-minute drive for Christmas and January sales to recoup lost traction from early December, studying a rise and fall in demand is more crucial than ever.
“Every year, we tell our clients it’s never too early to start prepping for Black Friday” says Louis Venter, CEO of MediaVision. “In such a competitive environment, it can be a real challenge to cut through the noise. But, with details ironed out early and the whole of the ecommerce and marketing team privy to the offers, a really strong integrated marketing strategy can push you one step ahead. Consumers are trained to hold off until the big day to take up the best offers from retail brands, so a multi-layered approach can help ensure current and potential Black Friday shoppers know about your brand and its offers well in advance.”
“When it comes to slipping brand demand, a detailed analysis of your marketing strategy is key. A complete review can help you identify what’s working and what isn’t, as well as where to invest budget. In a market focused on short-term gains and squeezing every £ out of ROI, investing in broader brand campaigns is still hugely important, however, measuring effectiveness against brand demand is also key. Too many brand campaigns aren’t linked to this crucial KPI.”
About our Black Friday Report
We used Google AdWords and Trend data to analyse average search volume across brands between 20 – 27th November, then compared this year on year. All Black Friday deals were sourced manually from brand homepages on Black Friday.