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Why (and how) luxury retailers should get involved with Black Friday

Olivia Cox
By Olivia Cox — September 15, 2021 -

If you’re a luxury brand, you may wince at the thought of running a Black Friday campaign. The retail event has become synonymous with big discounts, a prospect that doesn’t typically scream ‘luxury’. You may even find yourself wanting to hibernate on November 26th, instead choosing to focus on preparing your promotions for the (much more glamorous) festive period. 

But what if we told you Black Friday doesn’t have to mean shouty flashing adverts, crashing websites and online baskets piled high, only to be discarded at checkout? That it doesn’t have to be a single day of surging orders, but could instead drive revenue throughout the festive period and into the new year? 

In reality, Black Friday is a valuable opportunity to strengthen your luxury brand profile, acquire new customers, and drive sales. And it doesn’t even need to involve a discount.

More brands get onboard with Black Friday every year, such as Jigsaw, who had previously vowed to never take part in the seasonal promotion. And Selfridges, who technically don’t do Black Friday... but do hold a ‘Christmas Comes Early’ sale at exactly the same time. Even Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Dior have gotten into the spirit (without discounting a penny) by adjusting their opening hours to welcome Black Friday shoppers.

Starting to feel your unshakeable reluctance to take part beginning to, well, shake yet? Read on to discover how your luxury brand can make the most of Black Friday.


1. Emphasise your brand positioning

You might be worried that a Black Friday campaign will risk undermining the high-end reputation you’ve worked so hard to establish. But this will backfire when it inevitably leads to customers shopping elsewhere. 

Rather than sacrificing your brand image, getting involved with Black Friday can strengthen it.

If you’re a brand that prides itself on being classy, high-end and exclusive, incorporate this messaging into your campaign.

Take your copy and design. Enhance your traditional colour palette with a Black Friday splash of monochrome or sleek metallics; Charlotte Tilbury featured their signature sparkle and flashes of gold in their promotion last year. And rather than featuring copy shouting about SALES that shoppers should BUY NOW BEFORE IT’S GONE, keep your tone of voice sophisticated with talk of unmissable incentives such as exclusive giveaways, VIP offers, and luxury goodies. 

You can find more ideas for copy and design in our Black Friday lookbook. If you’re a client, our team of Referral Experts can also help you come up with bespoke branding ideas for your campaign, as well as advising you on incentives, promotional touchpoints, and a timeline. 

Charlotte Tilbury Black Friday
Charlotte Tilbury ran a high-end Black Friday referral campaign with sophisticated copy and design

2. Make it an experience

Two years ago, in a pre-Covid world, 73% of Black Friday sales were online. One year (and a pandemic) later, orders and referrals were up 20%, and we processed 3x more referrals than the typical day. With ecommerce sales recently estimated to be worth £12.8 billion annually, online shopping is sure to dominate Black Friday once again. 

If the pandemic forced you to close your physical store, you’ll have worked hard to recreate your in-store experience online. Consumers may be able to browse in-person again this year, but many will still prefer to shop online, so give them the best experience possible.

Turn your website and brick-and-mortar stores into Black Friday sanctuaries. Other brands feature bold sale signs and rapidly selling out items; yours can present a more sophisticated environment, with complimentary products and exclusive access. You could even take it a step further and make your Black Friday event invite-only, welcoming your most loyal customers and brand ambassadors (who will no doubt rave about it on social media).

Tailor personalised content to customer segments. Aid product discovery with promotions and free samples. Make it easy and convenient for your customers to try on products in the comfort of their homes.  

By creating memorable experiences, you’ll build authentic relationships with your customers that lead to long-term loyalty.


As Black Friday gets bigger every year, it also gets longer. We’ve found that order volumes on the other days in the week of Black Friday have more than doubled in the last two years. Take advantage of the fact that shoppers will be keen to shop in the days leading up to Black Friday (as well as the days that follow) by extending your promotion.

At the very least, run your campaign for the whole of Cyber Week; you could even run it for several weeks. This way, you can space out your Black Friday messaging and avoid sending out a flurry of frantic communications on the day itself.

By making your promotion last longer, you can maintain a sense of calm that aligns with your high-end positioning and appeals to your audience.

4. Offer luxury incentives (without the discount) 

Black Friday isn’t about slashed prices — it’s about value. 

Paul Rogers, founder of leading ecommerce consultancy and paid media agency Vervaunt, says that "there is no one-size-fits-all approach" for Black Friday. "We have clients who do not drop prices, and others which aggressively go into promotion", he added.

There are plenty of ways to make your customers feel they’re getting good value without undermining your luxury brand image. Through their paid media work, Vervaunt has found that common choices for brands not wishing to discount include focusing on corporate social responsibility (such as giving away a percentage of profits to charity, planting trees or offsetting carbon emissions for each purchase), giving away free gifts or gift wrapping, creating limited edition bundles, or offering 'subscribe and save' deals. 

You could also invite shoppers to VIP events, enter them into a luxury giveaway competition, or offer complimentary extras (such as free delivery or personalisation). Build any of these incentives into your Black Friday referral programme to drive even more powerful results.

Monica Vinader Black FridayMonica Vinader created an unmissable competition for their referral promotion

Another option is to host an invite-only Black Friday sale online. Not only will this maintain a sense of exclusivity that flatters your customers, but it’ll also encourage others to sign up to your newsletter so they don’t miss out next time. 

If you’re a really high-end brand (with high prices to match), chances are your customers will be more interested in exclusive rewards than standard discounts. Leverage this by marking the event with luxurious referral rewards, such as limited edition collectibles or free personal shopping in your store for the day. Rogers suggests "a factory tour or chance to win a brand experience" as particularly enticing offers for ultra-luxe brands. International shoppers who weren’t able to visit you during the pandemic will be particularly grateful for classy in-store experiences that make them feel special.

Regardless of whether you’re a Black Friday veteran or a newly converted skeptic, this year’s event is an unmissable opportunity for luxury retailers. With an elegant campaign, you can use the occasion to reiterate your brand’s messaging, drive sales, and encourage lasting brand loyalty.  

We’re working with a number of luxury brands on their Black Friday referral campaigns this year. You might think that it’s too late to set up a new marketing channel before the 26th November, but that’s not the case: you only need 30 days (or less) to set up a referral programme. 

Brands including Kurt Geiger and Ted Baker ran dedicated referral promotions for Black Friday last year — to find out how their campaigns looked (and get inspiration for your own), download our lookbook.



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