Forget Grey Thursday – Black Friday Began Last Week

Black Friday is the busiest shopping event of the year, capturing $59B in 2012 according to the National Retail Foundation. Black Friday is also no longer a day – most retailers extend their activities through the weekend, and Walmart and Best Buy open at 6pm on Thanksgiving Day, before most families have even carved their turkeys. The majority of “window-shopping” and list making happens much earlier, with shoppers searching for leaked deals online up to 3 weeks in advance of the big event. Given our web-wide visibility we examined our audience data to understand how shoppers are preparing for Black Friday – we analyzed their demographic profiles, how they look for deals and where they are looking.

The Black Friday Hero: Moms 25-44

Who’s preparing to shop on Black Friday? We looked at our real-time dataset of anonymous user behavior to find out.

We began by examining the demographics of consumers searching for “Black Friday” online in the past three months through November 18th.

We found the Black Friday deal searcher strongly skewed towards females aged 25-44. Based on our findings, more of these shoppers had an income between $50-100k and a college education than the US Internet population. Just as interesting is who isn’t looking for Black Friday deals. Men, Asians and Hispanics, Seniors (65+) and high income-earners ($150k+) all significantly under-index for Black Friday searches.

Not All Mobile Is Created Equal

Looking at the platforms Black Friday searchers are using, we found the mobile revolution is making its presence felt. US Black Friday searchers are 1.5x more likely to use an Android device than the typical US user online.

We spoke to Michael Brim, owner of BFAds.net, one of the largest Black Friday deal sites, who related how BFAds.net’s mobile traffic has grown dramatically. According to Mr. Brim, “Mobile (phone and tablet) web now represents almost 40% of BFAd.net’s total traffic. While we have seen year-over-year increases across all devices, mobile web traffic is up a combined 250%.”

Mr. Brim also notes that despite the huge traffic growth from mobile devices, a large majority of shoppers are still completing their online purchases on the desktop or tablet rather than on their smartphones. Smartphones may be powering research, but online commerce is saved for bigger screens and the comfort of home.

Interests in Family and Home

As a final element for this research into Black Friday shoppers, we looked at what keywords they searched for and organized the data in a couple of ways. First, we looked at which retailers over-indexed in searches. Second, from analyzing clusters of related keywords by interests we can understand what types of content users were searching for and engaging with.

Family and home oriented big-box retailers dominated the top lists as many of people’s interests revolve around family. Other notable interests include travel and sports.

In examining this year’s pre-Black Friday activity, we found Moms aged 25 – 44 are the driving force, and that’s not surprising given the stereotypical image of the Black Friday parent braving the crowds to find their children the hot toy for the season. Last year, Gallup conducted a poll that found adults 18 – 29 were the most interested in Black Friday shopping, and a story developed that Black Friday has made a dramatic skew towards youth. Based on our analysis of this year’s Black Friday shoppers, we think 2012 may have been an anomaly.

Posted by Art Prateepvanich, Head of Product Marketing, Publisher Solutions and Samuel Lo, Data Anthropologist

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