30-second summary:

  • Black Friday 2022 will see consumers balance bargain-hunting with more considered consumption
  • A more sensitive approach to marketing is required, including constructive and supportive content that reflects the socioeconomic climate we are in
  • Ed East, CEO, and Founder of Billion Dollar Boy provides advice for brands navigating a Black Friday like no other

Ed East: Navigating Black Friday in the cost-of-living crisisThe festive season is always important for brands to get right. For many B2C brands, it contributes disproportionately towards annual sales and revenue. Black Friday often represents the curtain raiser to the peak season, encouraging consumers to start their Christmas shopping early. So, it’s crucial that brands set themselves up for a good start to the holidays with a strong Black Friday performance – possibly more so in 2022 than ever before.

Traditionally, the gifting market is well insulated from the effects of a recession. Consumers are often keen to buy presents for friends and loved ones regardless of the economic headwinds. Nonetheless, it is realistic to expect a reduction in consumer spending overall this festive season. With the growing cost-of-living crisis tightening the purse strings for many consumers, many families could, unfortunately, find themselves with less disposable income to spend on Christmas this year. Indeed, according to a new YouGov poll, Britons are most likely to have to cut back on eating out and luxury items.

Amid this economic backdrop, we could see a resurgence in Black Friday this year as consumers seek thrifty ways to battle inflation and secure a bargain. However, rather than seeing a repeat of the overconsumption of previous Black Fridays, this year may see more considered consumption instead.

How to make your Black Friday content stand out in a cost-of-living crisis

If brands are to be successful this Black Friday, they need a sensitive approach to consumer challenges. The tried and tested strategies for the past few years may no longer apply. Let’s look at some of the strategies that could help you stand out on a Black Friday darkened by an impending recession:

1) Share constructive and supportive content

These messages might be best delivered through a creator with a more personable voice and who has stronger audience connections than a brand could. However, creators will need to adapt their content too. For example, shifting away from ‘hauls,’ towards creator partnerships focused on savvy shopping tips and money-saving activities like home DIY.

2) Offer a cultural snapshot (if it aligns with your values)

Alternatively, brands can use their marketing to provide a cultural snapshot that reflects the times we’re living in. This positions the brand on the side of the consumer. For example, Nationwide, the UK’s biggest Building Society, recently launched the latest iteration of its ‘Conversations’ campaign series. This is a series of honest conversations between consumers about the financial challenges they’re facing. Alongside its Cost-of-Living Support hotline, the campaign aims to provide support to all members – and anyone in the UK – that struggle with financial worries.

However, brands looking to comment directly on the crisis authentically should only do so if it aligns with their brand values. For Nationwide, its mutual, member-owned ethos remains true to its founding principles in 1884. The building society started as a business by helping people buy homes of their own and look after their families.

3) Look beyond Black Friday consumerism

Smaller businesses and independent retailers with less ad budget will need to think creatively to stand out this Black Friday. One recent example is the personal care product manufacturer, Haeckles. It recently launched its innovative alternative campaign, tapping into a growing rejection of some of the values Black Friday promotes. In recent years, we’ve seen some brands and consumers boycotting the event. There are concerns that the consumerism it incentivizes is harmful to the planet, and that it creates unfair competition for smaller retailers. Moreover, some discounts are disingenuous. A recent survey by Which? found 92% of the discounts advertised on Black Friday were available for the same price or cheaper in the six months following the sales.

Haeckel's Black Friday post on LinkedIn
Haeckel’s Black Friday announcement

Haeckles’ response? This year, instead of Black Friday promotions, it’s offering its retail spaces in Margate and London to smaller brands making a difference and pushing boundaries to help amplify and promote their products. When shopping sustainably isn’t a privilege that everyone can support, finding ethical campaigns such as this can be very effective.

4) Experiment with new content formats

With less disposable income available, competition among brands to win consumers’ attention and convince them to spend their hard-earned money on Black Friday purchases will be especially intense. So how can brands be effective with their ad spend? Other issues cloud the water. Musk’s takeover of Twitter, underwhelming financial figures from several platforms, and countless layoffs all sow the seed of uncertainty. Where is the safest place for brands to spend their Black Friday budgets?

In these challenging economic times, a more carefully considered strategy is needed. Previously, brands may have been more inclined to trial new formats and platforms, such as BeReal. Brands may adopt a more cautious approach this year. Indeed, BeReal doesn’t yet have a refined offering for advertisers and creators. Instead, more established platforms, such as YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, are likely to remain popular and effective.

The more pertinent question for brands as we enter the competitive festive season might not be where the best place to invest in social is, but rather what type of content is worth investing resources into.

The popularity of authentic content that has given rise to the growth of BeReal is a theme that can be replicated across other platforms. Meanwhile, short-form video content continues to perform well.

However, more importantly, creators and brands need to be wary of adapting their output to the current economic climate. Yes, aspirational content was successful during the pandemic. It offered consumers escapism from lockdown and drove high engagement. But a more tactful approach might be necessary now.

Is your Black Friday strategy sensitive to the cost-of-living crisis?

This year, Black Friday 2022 is set to be like no other. Brands will be mindful of a growing momentum against the consumerist culture Black Friday encourages. However, the growing cost-of-living crisis is now a more urgent priority for many consumers.

It was Winston Churchill who once said, “never let a good crisis go to waste”. And in times of hardship, brands have an opportunity to offer consumers impactful support through genuine discounts and informative and supportive messages. Black Friday 2022 will be a tricky tightrope for brands to walk as they navigate the challenging economic landscape. But if they approach the sales event and peak season tactfully and sensitively, they can successfully stand out in a crowded and uncertain market.


Ed East is the CEO & Founder of Billion Dollar Boy (BDB), a global creative agency for the creator age. BDB uses industry-leading tech solutions to deliver integrated, creator-led marketing and end-to-end campaign management.

Since its inception, BDB has partnered with some of the world’s leading brands. This includes Heineken, King, Nintendo, PepsiCo, Campari Group, Primark, Shiseido, and L’Oreal. BDB connects them with more than 11,000 vetted content creators, reaching over 10 billion users globally.

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