Traditionally Black Friday deals have lasted just 24 hours, but new research from digital marketing company, Rakuten Marketing, reveals that it actually takes consumers six days to make the decision to buy a Black Friday bargain, from initial research to purchase.

The findings show that while Black Friday causes a 20 hour cut in the total time taken to convert compared to an average weekend, consumers in the UK, US and Australia still take nearly six days (142 hours) from their first online interaction with a brand to purchase. This means the purchase journey, in fact, begins on the preceding Saturday and although retailers aim to drive impulsive purchases with a discount day, the customer remains considered in their shopping habits.

Surprisingly, the fall in the number of hours it takes to purchase is marginally greater in the UK than in the US. On average, consumers in the UK take 16% less time in reaching the point of sale during Black Friday week, whereas this is only a 14% drop for their US counterparts.

Impulse buys still happen

Evidence of a shortened customer journey around Black Friday is most apparent in the number of online advertisements consumers see before making a purchase. Whilst the average number of impressions across retail sectors including fashion, technology and beauty is just over 22 during an average weekend, on Black Friday consumers view less than five ads before transacting.

The biggest difference can be seen in the consumer electronics and jewellery sectors. Whilst it usually takes the average consumer as many as 54 ad impressions before making a technology purchase, the number of ads they need to see on Black Friday drops by a staggering 90% to six impressions. For the jewellery sector, the drop is 86%, from 30 impressions to only four.

Even on Black Friday, shoppers do not research items and purchase on one device. For instance, desktop computers drive the highest click rates of any device around the Black Friday period, seeing 52% over overall consumer engagement, compared to 12% on tablet. However, when it comes to actual conversions on Black Friday, tablet managed the highest conversion rate with an impressive 11% of conversions, followed by PC (9%) and mobile phone (4%).

Cashback sites lead digital transactions

The findings also show that shoppers look to discount publishers for a deal, even when brands are offering discounts on their websites directly. Rakuten Marketing saw 42% of its conversions on Black Friday through cashback sites such as TopCashBack and discount sites including Cashback sites generate nearly a quarter (24%) of all sales, whilst voucher and discount code sites drive 18% of sales.

Megan Dado, regional senior director of Rakuten Affiliate Europe at Rakuten Marketing, said: “Although there’s certainly a shorter journey to purchase, shoppers are less impulsive on Black Friday than brands might think. Like every other day of the year, they are still researching products and where they’re going to find the best deals in advance. Shopping sites like ShopStyle perform well because publishers optimise the consumer experience in accordance with these key dates.

“Black Friday only means big sales if brands have a complete view of a customer’s journey. Armed with insights about where shoppers are discovering their brand and where they eventually purchase, marketers can work out how to distribute their marketing spend effectively.”


By Jonathan Davies, editor, Digital Marketing Magazine

GDPR Summit Series is a global series of GDPR events which will help marketers to prepare to meet the requirements of the GDPR ahead of May 2018 and beyond. Further information and conference details are available at

comments powered by Disqus