Next week I am presenting a five-day training session on digital marketing and branding for my client. As I refresh and update my training decks after lockdown, my approach to digital hasn’t changed very much post-COVID (are we really post-COVID, or just in the third wave? Semantics.) I still:

  • Put people at the centre of the customer journey

  • Focus on segmenting the market to create a digital ecosystem

  • Empower small businesses with digital tools and training

  • Create brand ambassadors who help to build a word of mouth economy 

  • Help clients to give customers what they want, not just what the client or business wants to give them

  • Teach (preach?!) values led, purpose-driven branding 

I read in a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article that we should be segmenting our consumers into five groups (based upon research conducted with 14,500 individuals in 20 countries since the start of the pandemic) as follows:

  1. Affordability first (32%): People living within their means and budget, focusing on product functionality.

  2. Health first (25%): Protecting their health and that of their family, choosing products they trust to be safe and minimising risks in the way that they shop.

  3. Planet first (16%): Trying to minimise their impact on the environment and buying brands that reflect their beliefs.

  4. Society first (15%): Working together for the greater good, buying from organisations they find to be honest and transparent.

  5. Experience first (12%): Living in the moment to make the most of life, often making them open to new products, brands, and experiences.

I think this is helpful in understanding how people might be looking at brands in a post-COVID era. (Makes a mental note to include in training deck.

Ultimately the businesses, organisations, towns and cities who will now thrive will be those who concentrate on three elements: 

  1. Those who know their “tribe” and build a strong community: 

  2. Those who utilise digital effectively; and 

  3. Those who empower people through relationship building, transparency and collaboration.

So what does this have to do with Black Friday? 

Black Friday is just around the corner 

Black Friday is the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday (it falls on 26th November this year but I am sure Amazon has started promoting early). Traditionally the holiday season accounts for about 20% of retail annual sales so most retailers have been planning since July or August for Christmas. 

Three days later, Cyber Monday’s total sales exceed even that of Black Friday. According to Tech Radar, retailers reported $10.8 billion in overall revenue on Cyber Monday compared to Black Friday’s $9.0 billion. And last year, Amazon reported $23 billion in sales for the weekend of Black Friday to Cyber Monday. It is no coincidence that Amazon has been rated as the UK’s most trusted brand, at least according to one study conducted by Okta for Retail Week.

So what does this mean for our small business communities across the U.K.? If HBR, or Retail Week for that matter, have anything to say about human behaviour, most shoppers are supportive of their small businesses but will still shop for convenience and efficiency. Their high streets just aren’t delivering the proverbial goods. 

What is Small Business Saturday?

First observed in the U.S. on November 27, 2010, Small Business Saturday is their response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday’s big box and e-commerce’s big buying power. Now in its ninth year in the U.K., the campaign has grown significantly each year. On Small Business Saturday 2020, 15.4 million people shopped small, spending £1.1 billion that day. American Express continues to be the Principal Supporter of the U.K. campaign through this success.

Consider your options. 

  1. Join Small Business Saturday. Instead of competing with Black Friday, leverage the power of Small Business Saturday. Join the movement.

  2. Can you really afford to offer deep discounts on your goods and services? Black Friday/Cyber Monday is based upon slashing prices. The shopper who will be looking for bargains may always undervalue your products and services. So depending on your goals for the day or weekend, consider what you want out of this exchange. Will you gain long-term customers? What is the ROI for your business? Instead, offer unique experiences and value for your products and services. Focus on building relationships with your customers and doing something totally different on Black Friday (this is also the worst name ever. There, I’ve said it.).

  3. If you have your heart set on that Black Friday or Cyber Monday hashtag (remember you are competing with the biggest brands on the planet, folks), you can get your campaign together early, optimise your posts, get your landing pages sorted, get your mailing lists ready — but really, think about it. It is a race to the bottom. Slashing prices to what end? Where is your Return on Investment?

  4. Skip it all together. Volunteer at a food bank or hold a park run. Do something else that aligns to your brand and adds value to the experience of your customers and your community. Building authentic relationships is what matters it will add more value to your business than any sale Black Friday could ever bring. 

We are working on an engagement with our client where we are putting together a community-led Indie A-Z Christmas guide to independents. I am hoping to have it ready to roll by Black Friday to kick off the holidays.

And as a 2021 SmallBiz100, DigiKind is also promoting all businesses in our cohort as well as any small business who tags us at #BeDigiKind on our channels to be featured leading up to Small Business Saturday on 4th December 2021. 

Kathy Kyle Bonomini is a multi-award-winning Director and Co-Founder of DigiKind. She is currently working with the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead on their economic development programme and reopening the high street safely. See DigiKind’s work at

Connect with Kathy.