Early results show that sales during Black Friday Cyber Monday 2021 fell short of predicted levels. Online shoppers spent a total of $8.9 billion this year, versus $9 billion spent in 2020. Meanwhile, Cyber Monday dropped by 1.4% compared to a year ago.
The consensus is that the downward trend in sales may have been caused by retailers either opening up discounts earlier than usual or deciding not to go ahead with the same quantity of offers. An approach perhaps to limit the impact of supply chain issues.
Whether by giving early access to sales, replacing discounts with charitable incentives, or trialing other approaches, it was great to see so many retailers focussed on protecting their customer relationships during what was undoubtedly a challenging sales period.
Many retailers stopped to think about loyalty and lifetime value rather than over-promising and under-delivering on sales. Consumers responded positively to this approach too, with LoyaltyLion’s data showing a big uptick in loyalty program engagement and positive loyal behaviors over Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) this year.
51% increase in program enrolment: a deep dive into loyalty program engagement
This BFCM, customers were keen to engage with loyalty programs. Shoppers enrolled, banked up points, and returned to redeem rewards. Meanwhile, new customers responded to referrals from loved ones and made purchases with brands they discovered for the first time.
Compared to a regular shopping weekend:
- 51% more customers enrolled in loyalty programs
- 5x more loyalty points were awarded to customers for completing activities like making purchases, leaving reviews and social media follows
- 113% more rewards were claimed
- There was a 69% increase in successful referrals
Alternative incentives to discounts resonated with customers and brands
This year, many brands using LoyaltyLion chose to favor relationships over profits by offering VIP experiences and alternative incentives through their loyalty programs. And, the consumer appetite for this approach was high.
Ahead of Black Friday Cyber Monday, 62% of consumers told us they would buy from brands over the event if they knew they could contribute to a charity or initiative that’s aligned with their values.
Fuelled by the relevance of conscious consumerism, brands took note. This BFCM, many stores using LoyaltyLion participated in the “Green Friday” initiative or pledged to donate part of their profits to charity.
This resonated. Custom rewards – like spending loyalty points to plant a tree or donate to a charity – were redeemed 4x more during BFCM compared to a regular weekend. That was more than other monetary-based rewards including a percentage off certain products, collections, or subscriptions.
Shipping perks and benefits were also alternative incentives high on the BFCM-shopper’s list. Ahead of the event, 76% of consumers told us that shipping perks would get them to spend with a brand this BFCM. When the event came round, double the amount of free shipping rewards were claimed from brands using LoyaltyLion compared to a regular weekend.
Black Friday beat Cyber Monday for loyalty program engagement
The Black Friday Cyber Monday sales period looks a little different every year. And this year, it was the Friday that came out on top in terms of loyalty program performance.
While on a normal weekend, the number of rewards claimed typically stays quite steady, Black Friday saw a 180% spike compared to a regular Friday. This increase then remained across the rest of the weekend, with the number of rewards claimed staying, on average, 90% higher than a usual weekend.
The new-look BFCM: loyalty and lifetime value
The 2021 Black Friday Cyber Monday sales period may not have been the bumper event that many retailers expected. However, it was an all-out success where customer loyalty and lifetime value are concerned.
Prior to the sales period, the consumers we surveyed voiced mistrust of both the discounts on offer over BFCM and the brands offering them.
However, this year, whether in response to supply chain problems or customer feedback, merchants laid much of that mistrust to rest. They made customers feel like VIPs with early access to sales and offers and demonstrated their alignment with charitable causes, using tailored rewards to show they were not putting their integrity aside for the sales.
In return, their customers enrolled in programs ready to create ongoing connections with brands. They came back to redeem their rewards. They built up their points balances ready to return and purchase again after the sales. And they helped brands acquire new customers with more referrals.
With luck, this signals a long-term shift in sales periods where we no longer purely prioritize discounts and deals, but instead focus on long-term relationships and using these calendar events to drive up lifetime value.
About the author
Charlie Casey is CEO and Co-Founder of LoyaltyLion, a data-driven loyalty and engagement platform that powers ecommerce growth. Proven to increase retention and spend, LoyaltyLion is trusted by thousands of fast-growth ecommerce merchants worldwide. Prior to founding LoyaltyLion, Charlie joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as an Economics Advisor before becoming a consultant at Deloitte.