Marketing Briefing: DTC brands join in on early holiday sales, say concentrated Black Friday sales make ‘less sense’

a box opening that says happy holidays

This Marketing Briefing covers the latest in marketing for Digiday+ members and is distributed over email every Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET. More from the series →

Just like Amazon, Target and Walmart, direct-to-consumer brands are also rethinking holiday sales this year. Rather than concentrating on a single weekend — especially one with a fraught history for many ad buyers on which Facebook’s ads manager would often have issues around Black Friday and Cyber Monday — DTC brands are joining the ranks of major retailers to tout holiday sales earlier this season. 

“The holiday sales have started early,”  said Katya Constantine, CEO of performance marketing shop DigiShop Media. “[The sales are] taking place over a holiday quarter now rather than the holiday month of old.”

As previously reported by Digiday, Target, Walmart and other retailers have said they are rolling out holiday sales earlier to help ease inflation. Amazon posted similar messaging when the company announced a second sales event for Prime members this year, taking place this month. For some DTC brands, offering sales earlier allows more time for them to deal with possible shipping delays and other issues that often arise around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

“It’s making less and less sense to concentrate BF/CM to a single weekend,” said David Hoos, performance marketing manager at Outloud Group. “Retailers are struggling with staffing; DTC brands are concerned with supply chain/shipping issues; it’s hard to stand out in the noise of hundreds of brands all trying to get your attention at the same time; and some brands are realizing they’re not actually capturing much new business but training their audience to wait for a sale and just reallocating demand.”

“As a result, we’re seeing more brands take a more seasonal approach and letting the holiday shopping season spread out,” Hoos added.

It’s true that the holiday creep feels like it starts sooner each year, especially with retailers putting holiday decor on shelves earlier every season, and many see the holiday shopping season spreading out to take over the fourth quarter, especially this year as a result of inflation. It’s a convincing tactic, according to industry analysts, as consumers are increasingly concerned about rising costs. 

“With inflation, everything could be even more expensive tomorrow,” said Allen Adamson, brand consultant and co-founder of brand consultancy Metaforce. “Some people are buying now rather than putting it off.”

Some DTC marketers and agency execs have voiced concerns about rolling out sales too early because they said just being early might not be enough to stand out and being among the first crop to offer sales may not sway consumers enough. 

Even so, others aren’t sold on earlier sales or relying on sales in general, especially among DTC brands. 

“If things are selling out, why put it on sale?” asked Duane Brown, founder of performance marketing shop Take Some Risk. “Some brands can often acquire the worst type of customers during Black Friday as they only buy because it is on sale.”

3 Questions with Tricia Binder, co-founder and President of Muros, a global art activation agency

What can brands do to celebrate Hispanic heritage month beyond October?

Provide space and opportunity for diversity in the workplace. By allowing people to express and share ideas that represent a wide range of cultures, traditions and backgrounds, you allow for new concepts, products and ways of connecting with audiences within and outside this demographic that otherwise may not exist. When you look at the impact this population has had on the United States, from food to music and art, it’s not difficult to see the possibilities if you champion diversity of people and thought.

Muros works with brands and artists to make content for Hispanic heritage month. How has the Gen Z demographic responded to the art and on your social media presence?

The art seen on our social media channels provides a connection that people like to engage with and share. Most recently, the murals created for SHEIN by 5 LatinX artists served as the backdrop for content shares across social media and commentary has been overwhelmingly positive. It also serves as a sense of pride, with people coming out to capture and/or sharing the work on their own channels to celebrate and champion the artists involved.

How should brands be thinking about contributing to the month and making sure doing so is authentic?

Inclusion and representation across a range of cultures and backgrounds, as well as truly celebrating and giving back. We have much to be grateful for given all the wonderful contributions Hispanic Heritage has given to the United States, so this is a chance to say thank you and provide platforms for them to share, and for others to learn. — Julian Cannon

By the numbers

Advertisers are spending more on out-of-home spots as society returns to travel, in-office work and outdoor activities. A number of advertisers, including BelliWelli snacks, are looking to bridge the gap between digital and physical advertising, asking social media users to share the OOH ads to their own feeds for earned media. Apparently, it’s a growing trend, according to new research from the Out of Home Advertising Association of America and The Harris Poll. Key details from the findings below:

  • 82% of TikTok users report that they frequently notice OOH ads while on the platform.
  • 80% of Instagram users report seeing OOH ads while on the platform.
  • 48% of all social media users who responded to the survey report engaging with the OOH ads that they see in their social feeds. — Kimeko McCoy

Quote of the week

“The reality of a CEO calling you about a call they just received from a regulator is now very real for marketers. The idea that just because you can collect a bunch of data doesn’t mean you should is ringing true with a lot more marketers now. It’s not business as usual for a lot of marketers now.”

— said Ian Cohen, CEO of data privacy tech company LOKKER, on the data privacy panic many marketers are feeling now following lawsuits and notices many companies are dealing with.

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