As the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday marks the cornerstone of the holiday season for retailers. The pressure is on to find new ways to get a step ahead of the competition before the December sprint, and several companies are choosing an early start as their competitive edge. Kohl’s, Walmart, Staples, and more are now opening stores Thanksgiving night to get a jump on the big day, and are seeing serious backlash from consumers as a result. In an attempt to grow incremental sales over the long weekend, are these brands losing something more valuable?
The Influence of Word of Mouth
According to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, 72% of people say that family members or friends exert a great deal of influence over their decision to use or not use a particular brand, company or product. That percentage works for both positive and negative word of mouth.
In a high-volume week for engagement, many communities have taken a negative turn as customers take to social media to express their frustration. As loved ones leave celebrations to work their retail posts, the negative backlash from family members and friends has permeated throughout brand communities.
On the flipside, brands like Costco that have opted to remain closed on Thanksgiving are enjoying a positive boost from community members recognizing them for doing what they have always done.
Here’s a look at two separate holiday announcements and the effect each had on the engagement:
Click on the image below to see the negative chatter in the Kohl’s Facebook community:
Click on the image below to see the positive conversations in the Costco Facebook community:
With more sales being attributed to e-commerce channels, building social community and driving sales are no longer operating as separate initiatives. In fact, social media has started driving consumers to buy online. Business Insider reports that a large numbers of social visits may correlate with influence on consumer decisions further down the purchase funnel. IBM found that pre-Thanksgiving Facebook referrals drove an average of $101.83 per order. That number will only grow as Facebook and Twitter are set to debut a “Buy” button in Q1.
While major retailers can certainly survive a negative spike in word of mouth over the holiday season in exchange for incremental sales, they are missing the point. An engaged community of consumers advocating for a brand’s values and products can be the gift that keeps on giving year-round. The holidays are the perfect time to show them that they care.