Aref Yehia, Head of Retail and E-commerce at TikTok Global Business Solutions in METAP, explains how the platform will support brands building up to Black Friday this year.
How do you expect shoppers to behave for Black Friday in this post-pandemic year, particularly in the MENA region?
Black Friday is one of the most anticipated yearly retail events for [millions] across the world, largely due to the unprecedented growth in the number of people shopping online worldwide, following the outbreak of COVID-19. In fact, according to Redseer E-tail Report 2021, the Middle East & North Africa contributed to 19.8% in retail e-commerce in 2020. Also, as per [Bricklin Dwyer], Mastercard's Chief Economist, consumers are buying from up to 30% more online shops vs last year, or $1 in $5 spent on retail came from digital orders in Q1 2021.
And we don’t just expect shoppers to stop at spoiling themselves this year. They are likely to be gifting family members, friends, and even colleagues.
To be specific, based on a recent study conducted by TikTok, consumers on average plan to shop across 5.1 categories on Black Friday this year, compared to 3.6 last year on the platform. Therefore, naturally, hundreds of brands across the region are setting up to bring the best offers they can to the table and attract existing and new customers. TikTok is there to help them make the best out of this journey, ahead, during, and beyond Black Friday.
How much of the shopping experience do you expect to see moving online vs in-store?
It is really challenging to predict a certain percentage. Also, I would like to point out that online and offline are complementary retail strategies, and we don't expect one to replace the other completely.
To provide more context, omnichannel approaches are being adopted by retailers across the world and in the UAE, and they currently contribute to 41% of the market according to the Redseer E-tail Report 2021. As a result, shoppers have more touchpoints to utilize as part of their journey. It's safe to assume that a lot more of the research & discovery will take place online. In MENAT, 34% of the population vs 27% in the UK go to online channels for discovery (GWI, 2021). In KSA and the UAE specifically, over 46% of people claim they will continue to resort to online retail for inspiration rather than malls, and 51% will continue to shop via online channels.
As a result, how do you expect brands to behave for Black Friday this year in the MENA region? How could their offering evolve?
Many brands are jumping on Black Friday this year to offer their customers the best deals and bargains, and in many cases, this one day or weekend occasion is extended for the full month of November.
For this reason, brands are seeing greater benefit in investing in this key retail moment and using it not to just sell inventory but to connect with their audience on a deeper level and encourage longer-term brand loyalty. This is where TikTok's Community Commerce model comes in, which is quickly helping retailers become viral sensations and overnight successes.
If we look at traditional shopping, the journey involves a buyer and a seller, a transaction, and a real-life interaction in the process. In parallel, with e-commerce, the process is quicker and convenient, and the experience is very much designed with the transaction at its core. But, nowadays, with a digitally native audience of buyers, consumers' habits are also changing, and that transaction is no longer enough. People are increasingly demanding and needing authenticity, empathy, and joy, and we pride ourselves on uniquely offering that at TikTok, like nowhere else.
Humanizing digital commerce and bringing back the joy of shopping is that fine line that makes all the difference - in other words, it is the best of both worlds. On TikTok, commerce has been reimagined to be more than just a monetary transaction as users see the experience as an exchange of value between people, brands, and cultures. TikTok provides an environment where users are comfortable being themselves and creators express themselves with spontaneity and authenticity. It is this ‘realness’ and originality that makes selling on TikTok fresh, exciting, and an active process between the community.
With the community at the heart of the purchase experience, that social guidance through reviews and recommendations is empowering them and giving them the confidence to hit the 'buy' button. Which according to a cognitive study conducted by Behave across METAP, results in a shopping experience on TikTok that is accompanied by feelings of joy. Fear was eliminated because, with community commerce, you get the validation before and you get what you expect after.
What new activations does TikTok have in the pipelines for Black Friday this year?
When we launched TikTok for Business, we committed to playing an active role in supporting the growth of businesses of all sizes, which we have already seen happen on our platform - and we are by no means slowing down.
We understand the importance of Black Friday and really want to empower brands with the right knowledge to reap the best out of this key retail occasion. The efforts for Black Friday are starting way ahead of that month. In fact, they’ve already started!
We’ve launched a series of weekly educational webinars from August all the way until December, to educate the audience, particularly brands and marketers, about the potential they have when utilizing the platform this Black Friday. Hosted by experts in our team, these webinars cover a variety of major topics, including how the platform reimagines commerce and understanding community commerce, which is indispensable nowadays. These also cover bringing back the joy of shopping on the platform, as well as tips to embrace ad solutions and a Black Friday FAQ series. In a nutshell, we’re doing everything we can to really educate and empower those brands to achieve great results this season and invite them to benefit from these offerings.
Additionally, as we continuously try to find ways to further improve and facilitate the users' experience on the platform, we’ve launched a microsite specific for Black Friday, and we are helping brands embrace and leverage community commerce by helping them develop creator-led assets.
Now the only thing that brands on TikTok will need to worry about, is if they have enough inventory for this Black Friday!
What trends in content creation around Black Friday are you observing?
We looked at keywords associated with Black Friday content and, to no surprise, there are many. While these keywords are popular throughout the year, they peak during Black Friday- from #Outfit Inspiration, #Fashion Trends, #Styling, #Tutorials, #Deals to #Where to buy. I love how the community comes together to encourage each other about where to find their favorite items. My favorites, though, would be #Unboxing where people go to TikTok to share the purchases they are most excited about, further increasing word of mouth. And it allows users to feel closer to the purchase. And, of course, #As Seen on TikTok because it gives a further stamp of validity to a product or brand.