5 tips for using behavioural science to achieve Black Friday retail success

It’s that time of year again when retailers start to gear up for Black Friday. So it’s as good a time as any to pass on our top tips for Black Friday retail success.

We’ve pulled together our top 5 behavioural biases that you can use to maximise the success of your Black Friday communication.


People want what they think they’ll miss out on. This is probably what Black Friday is most synonymous for – so tell customers how many products are left and when the deals run out. Give them less time and less products and Black Friday retail success will be yours.

Booking.com are experts at this approach, using cleverly positioned reminders that there are only a ‘2’ rooms or seats left at this price.


The emotional impact of knowing you could lose out on something is far greater than never having it in the first place.

On Black Friday, you need to present customers with an exclusive VIP offer just for them. Then tell them they’ll lose their discount if they don’t redeem it by a certain time.


This bias refers to the fact that we tend to remember things that stand out over things that are as we expect. So consider not doing what people expect you to do… In this case that means ignoring Black Friday entirely. It’s brave, but you never know how much more appealing this might make you seem. 

In 2016, Patagonia chose to give 100% of its Black Friday profits to charity. Not only standing for something bigger than commerce, but acting as the antithesis to it competitors offering massive discounts.


We presume customers want to save more, spend less and only buy those products they ‘should’ buy, as opposed to ‘want’ to buy. But the truth is they don’t. This is the present bias – it relies on an innate desire to be gratified immediately.

Black Friday offers you the chance to place naughty treats or familiar favourites on special offer, like this Jo Malone example. You’re then safe in the knowledge that customers’ will inevitably need to satisfy their ‘want’ in the present and buy what you’re selling there and then.


Consumers can’t help themselves when it comes to getting something for free. Why not use this to your benefit by offering a free gift with every purchase, or simply giving away something for free. It doesn’t have to cost you all that much, it just needs to make the customer think they’re getting something free from you. 

BAM clothing send a free pair of socks with their catalogue to prospective customers. People may not buy there and then, but they might consider BAM for the next sock purchase.

Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become key trading days in the retail calendar, therefore understanding how people behave around this time is critical to making your Black Friday a retail success.

At The Behaviours Agency, our approach uses behavioural understanding to inform the communication that we create for our clients.

By James Ballinger

Senior Account Director