Riding the Black Friday hype: India has a new sale season and sellers are cashing in

Riding the Black Friday hype: India has a new sale season and sellers are cashing in

The Indian subcontinent is taking a page, or two, out of the international markets to add some interesting sale days to their calendar.

International sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday have started becoming particularly popular over the last few years in India (Photo: Reuters) International sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday have started becoming particularly popular over the last few years in India (Photo: Reuters)

Discounts and sales’ season in India is always around festivals like Durga Puja, Diwali, and Dhanteras. At least that is how things started. Traditionally, people are known to make most purchases around festivals to gift friends and family, and, thus, offers most often found over festive season in India are on clothes, jewellery, and electronic appliances.

Online commerce platforms and brands have also aligned themselves to the schedule of local festivals to announce sales across platforms for consumers. In fact, these sales are so profitable that many online shopping portals like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Ajio, etc., have also added Independence Day and Republic Days to their sale roster, just like the July 4 sales in the US.

We are at a point where pretty much every platform and brand have a sale/discount offer available online at any given point of the year. And you won’t hear the consumers complaining since everyone loves a discount offer. But that’s not where the e-commerce juggernaut stops. International sales seasons have also started making their presence felt on brands and e-commerce portals in India and the country seems to be warming up to them. For starters, Black Friday.

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is the first Friday that follows Thanksgiving in the United States and it kicks off the Christmas shopping season in the West. This day is marked by very highly prompted discount offers across stores with people often lining up to bag the best buys before midnight or even Thanksgiving. According to Wikipedia, “Black Friday has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States since 2005”. From people camping outside stores and malls to overcrowded shops and fights breaking out when shops open, Black Friday (at least in the US) has seen it all.

With the pandemic moving most of the shopping online, the sales and offers have moved online too and all sites are flooded with deals. The Black Friday phenomenon has also managed to cross borders making its presence felt in other continents as well where online shopping portals and brands have started offering deals and discounts on their sites.

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For Black Friday this year, H&M in India is offering a flat 20 per cent off on its app as well as in stores, Zara has a 40 per cent off. Nykaa has given its own spin to the Black Friday sales, calling it the Nykaa Pink Friday Sales, with price drops on thousands of products. The beauty and lifestyle website, which recently made a stellar IPO debut, made its discounted prices live for Nykaa Prive members a few days in advance as well. Games are available on Steam with discounts right now as a part of the Black Friday sale and there are many sites offering discounts on electronic devices too.

While it is not surprising to see international brands like Zara, H&M, Bath & Body Works, Forever21, Estee Lauder, etc., announcing deals in India for Black Friday, what is interesting is that Indian companies also are up and about to cash in on the hype. Essentially for them, this is one more day to get people to spend their money. And often, buyers looking out for the best discounts miss the fact that prices on the products they have been coveting might not have changed at all. There is a standing joke amongst Black Friday shoppers reflected best in this meme:

However, this is not specific to this particular sale day and is very often true for them all.

Black Friday is followed by Cyber Monday in the US where discounts and offers are available online instead of in brick-and-mortar stores. However, the pandemic has successfully blurred those lines.

International sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday have started becoming particularly popular over the last few years in India thanks to the Internet and now it is on the verge of becoming as much as a part of the Indian sales ethos as all others.

According to D2C platform, Smytten's co-founder, Swagat Sarangi, Black Friday sales event in India is expected to be bigger this year. Sarangi estimates that various platforms expected to generate sales worth $200 million at least. Smytten has onboarded 500 brands for this year’s Black Friday sales events, he said adding that close to a quarter million users have transacted on Smytten during the sale that’s still going on and the daily traffic on the app went up by 5 times.

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“Smytten had introduced the concept of Black Friday sales in India and has seen 3x growth in the traffic during the event and preview-sales days this year compared to 2020. The home-grown D2C brands in personal care and hygiene have been well received by the users and have seen a 4X growth over the last couple of years. The international luxury brands are doing well especially in the fragrances segment with both the online platforms as well as physical stores,” Sarangi said.

With more and more international brands making their presence felt in India, sales connected to local festivals are also going to make their way in. These bring in more opportunities for e-commerce portals and apps to rake in money one more day/week in the year and for the customer, possibly a chance to get the exact pair of leather boots they were coveting for Rs 500 more (or less).