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Navigating Black Friday

Navigating Black Friday: The Pressure on Brands and the Gen Z Woman's Guide to Smart Shopping

In the ever-evolving landscape of retail, Black Friday has become a cultural phenomenon, a shopping extravaganza that transcends generations. However, for Gen Z women, navigating the vast sea of Black Friday sales can be both thrilling and overwhelming. As the annual event approaches, it's essential to understand the increasing pressure on small brands like us at Bixby and Co, to participate in these sales to compete with larger companies. In this article, I’d like to delve into the dynamics of Black Friday, the changing strategies of brands, and provide savvy Gen Z women with tips on making the most of the sales while maintaining a conscious and thoughtful approach to shopping.

The Evolution of Black Friday:

Black Friday was once a one-day event following Thanksgiving in the United States, around the 26/27th November. In recent years it has expanded into a global phenomenon, marking the beginning of the holiday shopping season. The frenzy of discounts, promotions, and limited-time offers has become a strategic battlefield for brands, big and small, to capture the attention and wallets of eager consumers. Every year the promotions and discounts are announced and begin, earlier and earlier. I saw one Australian brand advertising its sale in October. It comes swift on the heels of Click Frenzy, and Singles Day, and AfterPay Day and Vogue online Shopping night and so on and so on…

The Pressure on Brands:

In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in the retail landscape, with brands feeling an increasing pressure to participate in more and more sales events, especially during Black Friday. The rise of e-commerce giants and fast-fashion retailers has intensified competition, pushing smaller and niche brands to join the discount race to stay relevant.

Smaller brands often find themselves caught in a dilemma. On one hand, participating in Black Friday sales can attract new customers, boost sales, and clear out excess inventory. On the other hand, the deep discounts required to compete may eat into profit margins and dilute the brand's perceived value. The fear of missing out on potential sales can be a powerful motivator, compelling brands to join the frenzy despite the associated challenges. In conversations with other small brand owners it’s clear some are keeping their general retail prices artificially higher than they otherwise would to take into account the endless succession of sales and discounts they feel compelled to participate in.

In this instance the consumer isn’t really a winner. The sale price you pay is likely to have started out artificially inflated before sales and you end up waiting for sales to start every few weeks on your favourite brands to avoid paying full price - so you don’t get the item you want when you want it!

As a small local Sydney based brand we keep stock levels to a manageable level to avoid wastage and excess storage requirements and to stay sustainable. A big sale event is difficult to stock for, especially so close to Xmas.

The Impact on Gen Z Women:

Gen Z women, known for their savvy and discerning approach to shopping, are both the target audience and the driving force behind Black Friday sales. Brands recognize the power of this demographic, and the pressure to cater to their preferences and values is palpable. As Gen Z women seek authenticity, sustainability, and inclusivity in the brands they support, the challenge for companies is to align their Black Friday strategies with these core values, whilst still making some profit and offering enticing deals.

Tips for Gen Z Women on Black Friday:

1. **Research and Prioritize Sustainable Brands:**
As a conscious consumer, prioritize brands that align with your values. Look for those committed to sustainability, ethical practices, and transparency. Many smaller, sustainable brands participate in Black Friday without compromising their values, offering discounts on thoughtfully crafted and sourced products. We can’t offer 50% off discounts because it would hurt not only us, but the suppliers we get materials from who we want to ensure we treat fairly. 

2. **Set a Budget and Stick to It:**
Black Friday sales can be tempting, with flashy discounts and limited-time offers. To avoid overspending, set a budget beforehand and stick to it. This ensures that you make mindful purchases without succumbing to the pressure of impulse buying.

3. **Support Local and Independent Businesses:**
While larger companies dominate Black Friday headlines, local and independent businesses often have unique offerings. Consider exploring small businesses in your community or online that may not offer massive discounts but provide personalised and authentic products.

4. **Look Beyond Discounts:**
Instead of solely focusing on the percentage of discounts, evaluate the overall value of the products. Some brands may offer added perks like free shipping, which we offer all year within Australia - exclusive bundles, or early access to new collections. Assess the holistic benefits of each deal to make informed choices.

5. **Stay Informed About Brand Values:**
Before making a purchase, delve into the brand's values and practices. Gen Z women appreciate authenticity and are more likely to support brands that align with their beliefs. Choose companies that prioritise inclusivity, diversity, and social responsibility.


As Black Friday continues to shape the retail landscape, brands face increasing pressure to participate in the sales extravaganza. For Gen Z women, the key lies in navigating this pressure with a discerning eye and a commitment to their values. By researching sustainable brands, setting budgets, supporting local businesses, looking beyond discounts, and staying informed about brand values, Gen Z women can make the most of Black Friday and other sales, without compromising their principles. In this dynamic retail environment, the power to shape the narrative of Black Friday lies in the hands of conscious consumers who prioritise authenticity and purpose in their shopping endeavours.

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