Black Friday has evolved beyond a singular day into an ever-extended shopping period including Cyber Monday, Black Week (week around Black Friday), Singles Day (11th of 11th), and even into October (“Big Deal” Sales Day from Amazon Prime), September (Back-To-School Sales) and July (Prime’s “Christmas in July” Sales Day). From a shopper perspective, there is now a growing scepticism around the real value of Black Friday Sales when there’s a deal to be had everyday.

“November sales events are blurring into a whole season of bargain hunting. And this year, consumers are ready and willing to shop around to get the best value for their dollar.”
Julia Hohmann-Altmeier, Boston Consulting Group


While shoppers may be placing less value on Black Friday, they’re still on the hunt for bargains - either shopping for deals earlier or holding out for sales later in the year. Research forecasts from Boston Consulting Group have predicted that 74% of US consumers expect to spend the same or more during this now extended holiday season. The average spend is going up - expected to exceed 2022 spend by 22%.

The Group also highlighted that younger shoppers (Gen Z and Millennials) are more enthusiastic participants, likely to shop more than older generations (38% and 36% of Gen Z and Millennials versus 20% of Boomers). Despite significant financial pressures, there appears to be a youthful desire to splurge, enjoy the gift-giving of the Holiday season, and momentarily ignore some bigger financial woes.

In the UK there are similar reports of increased spending - according to Wunderman Thompson Commerce & Technology Group, UK consumers aren’t letting the ongoing cost-of-living crisis interfere with their Christmas spending - the average spend for Black Friday 2023 expected to reach £184.55 – up from £171.66 in 2022. According to Wunderman, the majority of shopping (76% of spend) is expected to be online, with Amazon regarded as the top choice for Black Friday deals, accounting for 54% of all Black Friday spend. However, amongst the 16-24 age group specifically, Amazon's stronghold has become weaker, capturing only 37% of the market share.


Beyond Black Friday, we’re seeing new retail models capture the attention of youth. Drop shipping is making waves among youth audiences (both buyers and sellers). In short, drop shipping is a form of retail business and supply chain management, in which the seller accepts orders without keeping stock on hand. Across TikTok and Instagram, sellers push demand for a particular product, often sold at a significant discount to traditional retailers/ e-tailers as the agent’s buys in bulk from mostly Chinese manufacturers. The price of the item on sale is also significantly less than what the seller buys them for in bulk, meaning both buyer and seller are in for a win.

While drop shipping is legal, there are obvious trading illegalities when the drop ship is fake merchandise, which is a growing phenomenon facilitated largely by private/closed groups across social media.

“I follow a private Instagram boutique account where the seller will ask if there is interest for a designer fashion item which would normally sell for €200. The seller is offering a price of maybe €50 for the product as they are selling them in bulk, but also potentially because they are selling fake merchandise. I don’t know anyone that would pay €200, so it’s smart to get the €50 price. You have to plan ahead though - when you click to buy, you have to be prepared to wait 2-3 weeks for the shipment to come through.”
Laura, 16, on Drop Shipping

“You can check out links on the bios of sellers which often bring you to an excel where you can see the dates of drops and the prices of drops. I’ve got trainers for €13 that retail for €150 on other retailer platforms. You use these links to buy directly from sites like PandaBuy or DHgate - but buyer beware. Your product can get caught at customs.”
Ben, 16, on Drop Shipping


While Singles Day (11.11.2023) is the Black Friday of China, shopping behaviours of China’s youth revolve less around websites and more around live streaming on platforms such as Taobao, Douyin (TikTok), WeChat and Pinduoduo. In China this year, the Livestreaming sector is expected to account for a remarkable 19.2% of retail ecommerce sales (over ½ Trillion) with Human Life Streamers going head-to-head with AI/ Avatar Livestreamers. Top of the humans this month was Douyin Life Streamer Zheng Xiang Xiang, whose marketing tactics are simple — someone passes her a box, she picks the product up and mentions its price, then pushes it aside. No upselling, no further descriptions, just that. Spending only three seconds promoting each product, she earned a jaw-dropping 100 million yuan i.e. S$18.7 million in seven days. Looking ahead however, we’re likely to see more digital avatars given how cost effective they are and their ability for 24/7 content making.


Taking cues from the high-lucrative in-gaming shopping within 3-D immersive environments, 3-D shopping environments allow for more interactive discovery and a ‘copy and paste’ on real world environments - case in hand Drake Related, the shopping experience of Drake’s Toronto mansion (and private jet). With the rise of in-gaming purchasing predicted to surpass 74.4 billion dollars in 2024, it’s likely we’ll see more retailers getting in on the action and bringing 3-D experiences to young shoppers.


Smart shopping for many young people also means either buying pre-loved items or simply not shopping at all. From eBay to Vinted, Grailed to Depop, the second hand industry continues to flourish, especially when it comes to second hand fashion items. These e-commerce platforms speak to not just the fashion-conscious individual, but the savvy shopper who can easily sell their own goods allowing for a constant wardrobe refresh. Depop’s evolution to accommodate a new host of DTC brands and independent designers, is also nurturing a budding ecosystem of small business owners in the process, making it an exemplary sustainable business model in an industry that has historically been one of the biggest pollutants.

Many young shoppers are also asking themselves if they in fact need to buy at all, and buying only what they deem to be necessary. This intentional shopping means they are buying aware that a deal is only a deal if it’s something you need, really want, can afford, and ideally is ethically and sustainably made - #SmartShopping. According to the EY Future Consumer Index, which surveyed 22,000 people across 28 countries, 37% of Gen Z indicated that they are willing to pay for more sustainable goods and services compared with 29% of baby boomers, while 31% have checked the sustainability ratings of products compared with 18% of baby boomers.

Others are purposely avoiding shopping, shunning Black Friday deals altogether. And brands are getting in on the action to from Hiut Denim encouraging people to enjoy ‘free air, free sunshine and free rainwater’ in lieu of paid for products to fashion rental companies like By Rotation, Hurr and Hirestreet, reminding people that you can still look fantastic without the need to buy new. Meanwhile, Purpose Disruptors, in partnership with Channel 4, debuted 'The Good Advert' for Channel 4’s 'Change Climate' season; reclaiming the ‘sell sell sell’ ad break for a more reflective moment that is delivered with a nice dollop of common sense. And as The Drum highlights, anti-consumerist brand campaigns could put an end to Black Friday altogether. Watch this space…


Think Smart First: Smart is about offering new and personalised ways for young people to shop knowing they’re always up for a proper deal.

Beyond Overconsumption: As is the case with the growing numbers of brands boycotting Black Friday, deliberately choosing to not participate in Black Friday and instead invest in the circular economy, offering shoppers new alternatives - reduce, reuse, rotate, recycle - is surely the long-term winning formula. R.I.P Black Friday.


SHARING LOVE & HOPE FROM DUBLIN: Last week we shared news around ‘Spark’ a new art piece by GOAL NextGen X-Change, a project driven by the international human response agency GOAL and funded by Irish Aid. It brings together seven creatives who collaborated across borders to explore themes of global solidarity, connection and change. On the back of what can only be described as a dark day for Dublin, and Ireland, we are sharing ‘Spark’ again, celebrating how a more united community can nurture love, hope and positivity. As an agency headquartered in Dublin, THINKHOUSE welcomes and respects Ireland’s ever-growing multi-cultural population, and will continue to support and champion creators from all corners of our beautiful world - Listen here.