The ‘Preparation Prevents Poor Peak Performance’ Report by Wunderman Thompson Commerce set out to investigate how consumers spent their money during the Q4 shopping festivals known as “peak” sales. The report covered 3 key markets – the UK, the US and China. The report is broken down into segments exploring what consumers bought, what channels they used, which platforms benefitted the most during Black Friday and Singles’ Day sales and how they could improve.
The three markets surveyed had very different spending trends in 2021 – Consumers in the UK saw an enormous 95.4% increase in average spending (£86.06 in 2020 vs £168.18 in 2021) and the US experienced a 4% increase ($348.34 in 2020 vs $363.09 in 2021), while China experienced a 4% drop in spending (¥3,065.16 in 2020 vs ¥2,932.64 in 2021).
Looking ahead, 2022 is looking to be a bumper year for Black Friday and Singles’ Day sales, all three markets are looking to spend more in 2022. 56% of Singles’ Day shoppers in China said that they will spend more in 2022, as did 28% of Black Friday shoppers in the UK and 46% of Black Friday shoppers in the US.
But the reports also showed red flags- Consumers across all three markets expressed low confidence in the sales. A whopping 56% of consumers in the UK and 38% of consumers in the US believe Black Friday sales are misleading, while 47% and 34% respectively are disappointed with the offers available. Similarly, 27.5% of Chinese consumers believe Singles’ Days deals are misleading and 32% of Chinese consumers were disappointed with the offers available.
Across the board, more than 60% of consumers believed that retailers should be better prepared for peak periods. Among the top requested improvements were more eco-friendly labelling (CN: 52%, UK:25%, US: 28%), clearer notice on item provenance (CN: 52%, UK:17%, US: 26%), the availability of more instantly downloadable or digital items (CN:36%, UK: 15%, US: 26%), contactless payment (CN:25%, UK: 21%, US: 26%), and automated purchasing by personal devices (CN:24%, UK: 9%, US: 20%)
Online marketplaces continued to dominate 2021’s sales, but social commerce has become a vital part of digital sales. 92% of China shoppers made purchases from Taobao and Tmall, while Amazon transacted 66% of Black Friday purchases in the UK and 74% in the US. The impact of social commerce is undeniable 55% of Chinese consumers relied on social media to find Singles’ Day deals and 63% wished there were Singles’ Day deals that were specific to social media channels. A similar upward trend can be observed in the UK and the US where 31% and 42% of consumers respectively say they rely on social media to find Black Friday deals. Similarly, 30% of consumers in the UK and 42% of consumers in the US wished there were deals specific to social media.
36% of shoppers in the US and 22% of shoppers in the UK were inspired to buy by social media influencers. Interestingly, despite the role of livestream commerce in Singles’ Day in China, a surprisingly modest 30% of consumers in China found influencers important when making purchase consideration during Singles’ Day.
The “Preparation Prevents Poor Peak Performance” Report also drew insights on the impacts of travel, festive seasons such as Lunar New Year and Christmas, and consumers’ increasing focus on sustainability per country.
Some other interesting insights for China included, 56% of Chinese consumers said that travel restrictions were the number 1 barrier to spending more during Singles’ Day, 27% of Lunar New Year shopping was done during Singles’ Day, 59% of consumers actively chose to buy from brands and retailers who are sustainable.
Commenting on the report, James Bay, Managing Partner, Commerce for Wunderman Thompson Greater China said “With international travel still limited due to zero COVID policy in China, big ticket purchases such as premium beauty & luxury goods have shifted to within Chinese borders. Government policy and aggressive expansion by Chinese duty-free retailers into the ecommerce space has also given Chinese consumers a new viable channel to shop. Key duty-free players such as China Duty-Free play to the exact same peak shopping moments and have been broadening their reach through live streaming and social commerce platforms. Brands have to relook at how to better integrate travel retail with online business models and local operations to capture consumers where they are.”