Black Friday: Just an Appetizer for Walmart

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It’s late November and that means three things: ironic mustaches are reaching their peak, holiday decorations are (finally) becoming seasonally appropriate and retailers are jockeying to be the preferred Black Friday destination for deal-seeking shoppers. In recent years, that has meant opening earlier and extending Black Friday doorbusters into the weekend and beyond.

 

But do stores actually benefit by extending their Black Friday deals, or are they merely spreading out the week’s sales? To answer that question, we zeroed in on two key retailers, Target and Walmart. Our team analyzed millions of receipts from the past two Black Fridays, and followed each retailer’s share-of-wallet across key categories.

 

BlackFriday2015_TargetShareOfWallet2014@2xIn 2014, Target focused its attention on the week leading up to Black Friday, with 30-60% off select items all week. The main event was on Friday, when Target offered 10% off gift cards for the first time ever (Friday Only). As a result, Target increased its share-of-wallet during the week before Black Friday and on the day itself, but lost share during the following week when their deals ended.
Walmart did not change its hours of operation in 2014, and extended its Black Friday deals throughout the following week, gaining share during that time. Despite not having any special events in the week before Black Friday, Walmart saw share gains here as well.

 

BlackFriday2015_WalmartShareOfWallet2014@2xWhile Target was able to gain share by bringing savings to the consumer first and offering discounted gift cards, it paid for it in the following week when Walmart’s promotions were just getting started. Target shoppers seemed to recognize when the deals had moved on, and many of them moved on with them. Walmart’s strategy of extending its promotion into December seems to flow more naturally into the rest of the Holiday shopping season, allowing the retailer to avoid any painful dips in sales.

 

So, does it pay to extend Black Friday deals? That all depends on whether you view the shopping holiday as dessert, or just an appetizer.

 

About the Data:
InfoScout collected data from over 2,000,000 receipts for this article, submitted by regular Target and Walmart shoppers. For this analysis, regular shoppers are defined by having visited a retailer at least once during October, November, and December of a given year. Share-of-wallet comparisons view 2014’s regular Target and Walmart shoppers’ % of total dollars spent against the previous year’s regular Target and Walmart shoppers’ % of total dollars spent.

Top Selling Items on Record Shattering Cyber Monday

Amidst reports of Black Friday’s slumping sales numbers, this past Monday’s online sales hit a record breaking $2 billion mark, making 2014’s Cyber Monday the biggest online shopping day to date.  This is just one more data point confirming the accelerating trend away from traditional brick-and-mortar retail to online shopping as detailed in our prior post outlining Black Friday’s rapid shift to become Cyber Friday.

Which items contributed to this 24 hour e-commerce frenzy? Here are the top selling products at some of the major online retailers:

 

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Data methodology:
This data was collected from the online purchases of InfoScout’s 40,000 panelists who share access to the e-receipts they receive in their email inboxes each day. For more information related to our data and panel representation, visit our data page.

Apple Pay’s Black Friday, By The Numbers

Here at InfoScout, we love data.  And we love mobile technology.  So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we’ve put on our analytics hats to learn how the hottest new player in mobile payments, Apple Pay, performed in the Super Bowl of shopping: Black Friday.  To do this, we tracked the shopping behavior and opinions of those in our 170,000 household consumer panel who own an iPhone 6 / 6 Plus and shopped at a retail store that accepts Apple Pay this Black Friday weekend.

Despite its hype within the tech community, Apple Pay still has a lot of ground to cover.  Out of all Apple Pay-eligible transactions on Black Friday, the new NFC-powered mobile payment method was used less than 5% of the time. Let’s explore the details behind this number and what the landscape looks like in terms of Apple Pay usage.

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According to these real-time shopper surveys data, just over 9% of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users who shopped on Black Friday have ever tried using Apple Pay at checkout.  Among those who have used Apple Pay, there was a 50-50 chance that they would use it at checkout when shopping at a participating retailer on Black Friday.  To understand the “why” behind this behavior we explored the extent to which the product or experience itself was the culprit.  We asked Apple Pay users what they thought of it as compared to swiping a card, and found overwhelmingly positive reactions to the experience.

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If Apple Pay users have had such positive experiences, why did only half of them use Apple Pay when given the chance on Black Friday?  Well, we figured they’d know best… so we asked them.

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The biggest piece of the puzzle is simple: they were unaware that the store accepted Apple Pay.  The second-most common reason is that they simply forgot. This isn’t necessarily surprising; the checkout process has become habit for most, and integrating mobile payments into your purchase flow requires change to a very deeply ingrained pattern of behavior.  These two data points highlight Apple’s need to find a way to capture mindshare at checkout, and to remind or inform the user that the purchase could be made with Apple Pay.  Of the two icons currently in use at Apple Pay-accepting stores, only one actually has any Apple branding, and both are fairly subtle and unlikely to grab attention.  If there were a more prominent display, Apple could feasibly increase Apple Pay usage by over 40% – simply by having its user base behave more consistently.

 

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Either of these two icons can be seen at retailers accepting Apple Pay, but only one of them directly refers to Apple Pay.

Taking a step back, however, we see that the biggest opportunity is for Apple Pay to drive adoption among the 90% of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users who have yet to try it – despite shopping at stores that accept Apple Pay.   InfoScout’s survey of these potential users yielded some interesting results…

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A whopping 32% of eligible users haven’t tried Apple Pay because they aren’t familiar with how it works, and 11% simply haven’t heard of it.  That means that nearly half of people who are eligible to use Apple Pay can still be influenced via informational outreach or educational advertising. We’ve already seen that most users who pay with Apple Pay find it to be easier and faster, but now Apple needs to better inform their potential user base of these benefits.  Bonus points to Apple if they can use that same campaign to address any security concerns users may have.

Even with all this data in hand, it is very evident that Apple Pay is still a nascent competitor in the payments industry.  Apple Pay has only been around for 5 weeks, and with over 70 million Apple Pay-capable iPhones expected to sell in Q4 of this year, adoption of Apple Pay may shift drastically as more people upgrade their devices and the positive word-of-mouth from existing users spreads.

We’ll be tracking it all, so stay tuned in to all the action by subscribing via the button above.

Black Friday Top Sellers – Brand Equity Trumps Affordability

While Thanksgiving Day has been gaining steam as a legitimate calendar contender, Black Friday is still widely recognized as retail’s biggest day.  This year’s Friday shoppers brought their brand preferences with them to the stores, and the line defining the weekend’s top performing products shifted away from economy brands and toward trusted items.

Products from companies with lower brand equity, like Emerson and RCA, lost momentum on Black Friday after showing promising early sales indicators on Thanksgiving Day.  Apple, with a brand rating of 9.5/10 and remarkably positive sentiment to its credit, gained a significant share of sales across all retailers.

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How did one company manage to get four of its products in the Black Friday top ten?  To what extent can brands with higher equity rely more heavily on customer loyalty than on reduced prices?  Should economy brands consider investing in their image to help offset the need to sell so many items to make up for lower margins?  As is the case with most worthwhile data, more answers yield more questions.  Find out more about how InfoScout’s unique approach to shopper insights makes brands better marketers.

Data methodology:
InfoScout panelists submitted 180k+ receipts over the course of Black Friday. The data includes purchases at all major retailers including Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Costco, Macy’s, JC Penney, Kohl’s, GameStop, RadioShack, and others.  For more information related to our data and panel representation, visit our data page.

Madden tops list of games this Black Friday

While Xbox cleaned up once again this year, which games were the hottest sellers this Black Friday? Sports-related games climbed the list this year owning 3 of the top 6 spots, a jump from just one sports game in the top 5 last year. Madden NFL 15 topped the charts with an 8.4% share of game spend.

Top Games Black FridayNote share data is for game-only purchases, and excludes console+game bundled purchases.

So to what extent did games drive overall sales within the gaming market on Black Friday? Per a previous post, console+game bundles led the way this year while games alone contributed to 37% to the total share. Black Friday is far from the end of game purchases this holiday season; 77% of panelists who purchased a console on Friday plan to purchase 2+ more games before Christmas.

Gaming Console Purchase Breakdown

Data methodology:
InfoScout panelists submitted 180k+ receipts over the course of Black Friday. The data includes purchases at all major retailers carrying electronics including Walmart, Target, Best Buy, GameStop, RadioShack, and others. For more information related to our data and panel representation, visit our data page.

Bundles & Xbox Dominate the Console War

With no major console releases this Black Friday season, retailers turned to lower prices and console + game bundles to lure in consumers. The bundles seemed to be successful in driving sales, as over 90% of console purchases on Friday were bundled with a game.  Was it really the attached game that drove the sale? Apparently so, as 75% of InfoScout panelists who purchased a gaming console this Black Friday said that the included game was a major influence on their purchase decision.

Top Gaming Console Purchases

Gaming bundles aside, which console came out as the winner this Black Friday? PlayStation4 had a disappointing weekend one year ago, capturing only 15% of the console market. While 2014 shows a slightly better story for the Ps4, between the Xbox One and Xbox 360, Xbox once again dominated the console war, owning 62% of the market share.

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While we know that kids influence their parents’ purchase decision when it comes to holiday gifts, we were curious to what extent and how that varied from console to console. Unsurprisingly, 66% of InfoScout panelists confirmed that they purchased the console for their kids.

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Interestingly though, it varied greatly by console with over 50% of PS4 purchasers buying the console for themselves.

Update – 2014-12-01
Multiple sources reached out to InfoScout and were curious about the motivations behind console purchases during the Black Friday shopping weekend. We shared this curiosity, so we collected survey responses from 350 consumers who purchased a console over the Black Friday weekend. The cost of the console certainly played a role, although that varied by console – 71% of Xbox One purchasers cited price as a major influence on their decision versus just 48% of PlayStation 4 purchasers. As other sources have noted, this may have played a role in its success this weekend. Not surprisingly, price-conscious consumers may have also led to the sales of the 8-year-old Xbox 360 as 92% of consumers noted price as a major influence their decision.


Data methodology:

InfoScout panelists submitted 180k+ receipts over the course of Black Friday. Of the 180k receipts submitted, 2k receipts included a games-related purchase. The data includes purchases at all major brick & mortar retailers carrying electronics including Walmart, Target, Best Buy, GameStop, RadioShack, and others. For more information related to our data and panel representation, visit our data page.

Retailers Face Heavy Deflationary Headwinds this Holiday Season

Powered by over 170,000 consumer panelists, InfoScout’s real-time read on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday sales indicates that early reports of a strong holiday shopping season for America’s major retailers may be inflated.

With consumer electronics dominating the list of best sellers at Walmart, Target, Best Buy and even Kohl’s, these retailers now find themselves exposed to the deflationary pressures of the gadget industry.   Last year, consumers were exposed to exciting new products, and shoppers swarmed in to seize the new must-haves like the iPad Air, Beats Headphones, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.  As an industry that relies on innovation, the relative lack thereof in 2014  has left American shoppers unwilling to spend more for only minimally improved versions of their favorite products.  With their top-selling items now on-shelf at reduced prices, retailers will need to sell many more units than last year to keep pace with sales from the 2013 holiday season.

The list of best selling products in each of Walmart’s top holiday categories is remarkably unchanged, with slightly better offerings at predominantly lower prices.

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Target carries a similar assortment of products to Walmart and therefore faces similar deflationary headwinds this holiday season.   Sales of iPads had accounted for such a large percentage of Target’s holiday sales in 2013, that the retailer will have to steer shoppers towards other products in 2014 in order to overcome the large year-over-year price reductions.

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Even the highly innovative Amazon has struggled to improve upon its Kindle Fire offering from last year.   In fact, consumers are trading down this year from 7-inch to a 6-inch display at a much lower price point.

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It should be no surprise then that average basket values appear to be down across almost every major retailer compared to the year prior.  Early data coming in from InfoScout’s panelists’ shopping in stores on Black Thursday & Black Friday indicate that only Macy’s has managed even the slightest gain in their average transaction.  While this data is just a preliminary read, it is derived from more than 42,000 shopping trips reported thus far at the retailers below.

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To stay on top of America’s shopper journey throughout this retail holiday season, be sure to subscribe (above) for real-time updates.

(Author’s note:  Special thanks to Ben Ahn & Bret Weinberg for their real-time reporting.)

 

First Read on Black Thursday’s Top Sellers

With many stores opening for business before most of us could even finish our plate of Thanksgiving turkey, the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season is officially underway… a lot earlier this year. With retailers no longer waiting until the traditional Black Friday to begin their doorbuster sales, Black Thursday (also dubbed “Grey Thursday”) is inarguably becoming the new norm among retailers anxious to draw customers in early. Shoppers flooded the aisles of Walmart at 6PM on the dot to get their hands on some of the hottest deals, and this data is coming in hot here at InfoScout’s San Francisco headquarters. Here’s a very early look at three major retailers’ top selling items on Black Thursday:

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Methodology:
Data collected from the first 5,000 Walmart receipts, 1,000 Target receipts, and 300 Amazon receipts submitted by InfoScout Panelists on ‘Black Thursday’ (Thanksgiving Day).