Does Black Friday Hype Translate Into Purchases?

Looking at how online consumer discussion about Black Friday leads to real-world purchases

Every Black Friday, retailers release bombastic ads to lure consumers to stores early in the morning for sales on products like TVs, laptops, and clothes. Some consumers head to the stores every Black Friday because it’s a tradition they enjoy, according to Popular Science. However, not all consumers feel the hype. Boycotting Black Friday has taken off to protest unjust police treatment of blacks by flexing economic power. Others have concluded that Black Friday simply isn’t worth it. Retailers have taken note, extending Black Friday into a two-week shopping period.
Looking at historical social media data, we analyzed how the Black Friday discussion has changed throughout the years and what the discussion says about consumers’ purchase intent.

How are consumers discussing Black Friday?

In the days leading up to Black Friday, consumers anticipate what they’re going to buy, excitedly discussing the retail holiday on social media. However, the volume of that discussion varies by year. In the past couple years, that volume has decreased. 2017 is shaping up to be one of the years with the lowest discussion pre-Black Friday volume. However, from Nov. 15 (Wednesday) to Nov. 17 (Friday), Black Friday recovered the historical average before falling below average again. Major retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy released ads during the first week of November, but media coverage didn’t pick up until Nov. 15, with the volume of articles almost double the previous day.

Why is this the case? Are calls to boycott Black Friday and campaign’s like REI’s #OptOutside translating into offline action?

How are top retailers faring this year?

Best Buy is one of the biggest Black Friday retailers. Data shows that hype for Best Buy fluctuates every year, but discussion rises exponentially starting the Sunday before Black Friday. This year, volume for Best Buy rose to the average on Nov. 27 (Monday) and Nov. 28 (Tuesday) due to a marketing push called “Black Friday Starts Now.”


Social media data unlocks a new dimension of consumer opinion not always found in surveys or focus groups. Looking at social media data helps us better understand shifting consumer preferences, and it is especially helpful for retailers as they seek to advance over their competitors.
For more on consumer insights on holiday shopping, download our free guide Is This The End of Black Friday?

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