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Black Friday, Cyber Monday & the Future of Grocery

17 Nov 2023

Each month, The Mars Agency’s Ecommerce team compiles a Marketplace Assessment to help clients identify the potential business opportunities arising from recent initiatives and events at Amazon. As the preeminent experts in connected commerce with a specialty practice dedicated to maximizing brand performance across the Amazon ecosystem, The Mars Agency is ideally suited to help brands understand and optimize these opportunities.

Everything’s Rosy for Black Friday

All eyes in the world of commerce marketing world will be on Amazon this Black Friday — which, this year, is starting a full week early at the ecommerce giant.

Rather than waiting until the day after Thanksgiving on Nov. 24, Amazon this year began offering blockbuster Black Friday deals on Nov. 17, offering “some of the lowest prices of the year so far on select products from popular brands like YETI, Peloton, LEGO, Lancôme, and Ruggable,” according to a recent announcement from the retailer. The promotional period will run through Nov. 27 — otherwise known as Cyber Monday.

The goal, naturally, is to give shoppers even more time to leverage Amazon’s deals and pre-empt them from finding their seasonal needs elsewhere. Calendar-wise, it turns the critical “Cyber 5” ecommerce sales period — Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday — into something closer to “Cyber 11.”

As it did last year, The Mars Agency will join with partner Analytic Index on a special report looking at key trends during the Cyber 5 window.

Meanwhile, Amazon will set another holiday milestone on Black Friday when Prime Video hosts the first-ever National Football League game to be played on the day after Thanksgiving (on which NFL games have been a longstanding tradition). The contest features the New York Jets playing the Miami Dolphins.

A key component of Amazon’s new NFL deal for streaming rights, the Black Friday game provides an opportunity for the retailer to showcase special seasonal deals in front of a potentially huge audience. But the tentpole programming also gives Amazon Ads an enticing media opportunity to offer advertisers looking to drive consumers all the way through the purchase funnel.


A Look at Amazon Fresh 2.0

The Story: The Amazon Fresh store in Schaumburg, IL, outside Chicago has reopened after undergoing a technology-infused renovation the retailer promised for the brick-and mortar chain earlier this year.

The upgraded store features a larger footprint, bigger shopping carts, improved digital signage and even a store-within-a-store Krispy Kreme.

In addition to creating a better omnichannel experience for shoppers, the digital signage is intended give Amazon Ads some in-store programming —endcap screens shelf signs, Dash Cart deals — to offer their brand partners as part of the package.

Opportunity: Sensationalistic industry coverage earlier this year suggesting that Amazon might be moving away from grocery were completely unfounded, as we’ve noted before.

Amazon Fresh is still working to crack the “grocery game” by better understanding and addressing shopper needs for convenience, in-store navigation, product education, and overall ease of experience. As one example, the new format lets shoppers choose from three checkout options: full-service, self-checkout, or “just walk out.”

On their own, Amazon Fresh’s 44 locations don’t exactly make the chain a strategic priority for CPGs. But parent Amazon is a majority priority, of course, so brands need to stay informed about what the ecommerce giant is doing in-store, what it’s learning about the grocery shopping experience from the effort, and what test-and-learn opportunities might be available to advertisers. The shopper learning here ultimately could prove handy elsewhere in the future.


Getting Shoppers to ‘Buy Again’

The Story: Amazon has been testing a “Buy Again” feed, even featuring the service in a tab on its app home page. The tab uses a customer’s personal order history to make repeat-purchase recommendations in various categories, including grocery or electronics.

Shoppers were already able to access and re-order past purchases, but it previously required several more steps and the opportunity was much less prominent on the highly utilized app.

The Opportunity: According to industry reports, Amazon Prime new-member growth is slowing and existing members are buying less. With 60% of traffic to coming from the retailer’s app versus the website, keeping repurchase opportunities top of mind could have a significant impact on shopping behavior and conversion.

The initiative is part of Amazon’s broader efforts to get existing Prime members to make their purchases more habitual, a strategy that also includes its “Subscribe & Save” programs.


Friends Don’t Let Friends Shop Alone

The Story: Amazon is also testing a new “Consult-a-Friend” feature that lets shoppers request, view, and manage feedback from friends on products that they share through their preferred messaging app. Enlisted friends receive a link to the product and can send back quick emoji reactions or comments. The sender can then view the collective feedback directly within the app.

The Opportunity: Recommendations from friends and family have long been among the more influential purchase influencers for consumers. Amazon says shoppers have already used the “Share” button in the app “billions of times” this year.

Consult-a-Friend represents the latest step in Amazon’s push to give its shopping ecosystem more of a social experience as the ecommerce leader responds to the steady push of social media platforms like TikTok into the realm of commerce.


Meanwhile, The Mars Agency’s London-based International team offers their perspective on recent events.

Amazon Moves into Auto Sales

The Story: The most significant news we’re watching in the UK is the partnership between Amazon and Hyundai announced this month. Starting in 2024, Hyundai auto dealers will be able to sell vehicles on Amazon’s website, with buyers arranging to have their purchases delivered to their home or picked up at the dealership. And beginning in 2025, next-generation Hyundai vehicle will have Alexa built into their operating systems, giving drivers the same hands-free access they have at home.

The Opportunity: If successful, this service is likely to roll out to other regions and markets globally, as well to other car manufacturers. But as Amazon seeks to continue growing its marketplace and capture more shopper spend, could it also extend to other product categories that have never been sold on the platform — perhaps other modes of transport or even holidays?

In regard to Alexa, most car manufacturers already have their own voice recognition technology, which is generally poor quality versus Alexa and other branded equivalents. This move could signal the beginning of manufacturers offering drivers better functionality that will lead to shopping on the go becoming common practice.


To obtain a complete copy of our latest Marketplace Assessment or learn more about how The Mars Agency can help you win at Amazon, contact Melissa Wightman, VP-Ecommerce, at [email protected]. To learn more about the EU marketplace, contact Ross Halliwell at [email protected].

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