What You Need to Know About Black Friday in Russia

The term “Black Friday” refers to the day after Thanksgiving, a national holiday in the US, Canada, Caribbean islands and Liberia, which marks the start of the festive sales season. Though not originally an international holiday, many markets have since picked up on the idea of an additional sale weekend with great enthusiasm. Black Friday has spread quickly, especially over the last few years, and in 2013 it finally reached Russia.

However, Russia’s way of doing business has its own specific nuances.

A group of Russian and Austrian entrepreneurs working under the name of OOO Black Friday agreed with online retailers to register at blackfriday2013.ru and commit to paying commission for every sale made via their portal, in exchange for a marketing campaign funded upfront by as much as $700,000. Along with the campaign launch, the OOO trademarked all Black Friday relevant terminology and monopolised its usage in Russia.

The scheme has attracted hundreds of prominent online retailers, including Phillips, Ozon.ru, Otto, and Wikimar, whose sales have helped to recover the OOO Black Friday investment on the advance promotion.

It was only as recently as October 2016, that FAS (Federal Antimonopoly Service of the Russian Federation) lifted trademark rights from the usage of “Black Friday”, declaring it a violation of retailer rights.

Currently, the Black Friday Sale website in Russia has been rebranded and is still one of the most powerful Black Friday sale platforms. However, it no longer owns the copyright for usage of the term, and has become more of an information base for customers and retailers who want to participate.

Aside from the original online usage regulations, the Russian offline market quickly became known for fraudulent sales during Black Friday. Some retailers were seen to inflate prices weeks before the sale and “dropped” them back to standard while advertising it is a mark-down, some even showed the same prices but marked them as discounted, as seen below:

Russia is a market that requires an agile approach, and trust is something that needs to be worked on from the very start. Always integrate language that will reassure your customer that your product is genuine, and their data is in safe hands.  Try using such terms as «подлинный» (SV 104’396, “genuine”), «безопасный» (SV 1’142’337, “safe”), «защита» (SV 4’653’603, “safety”), and make sure that the customer journey is smooth and tailored to what they’re accustomed to when buying locally.

Despite its original issues, the Black Friday sale weekend has been successfully integrated into the Russian shopping calendar, so much so that according to Russian research company Promokodabra, in 2018 more Russians will participate in Black Friday than last year.

An overwhelming 90% of Russian respondents have stated they plan to participate in Black Friday this year. There is a skew towards the younger generation, with most millennials expecting to spend money on Black Friday, whereas Gen Xers are roughly split on the matter. Barely one-quarter of baby boomers expect to be spenders for this event. Given the relatively youthful shift of customers, it is more vital than ever to adjust messaging and channels used accordingly to make the most of this time and target relevant audience in the most engaging way possible.