The ads are running non-stop and the signage is up – Black Friday is just a few days away! While the day after Thanksgiving used to mark the start of the holiday season, or at least the start of the holiday shopping season, more and more “black Friday” sales are starting before Thanksgiving
Traditionally, Black Friday is the day where you can get high demand items for the lowest prices of the season – for one day only. Brands advertise heavily leading up to Black Friday and offer incentives to arrive and shop early. This has created an environment of rushed and panicked buying. Consumers quite literally grab at these “deals” and run each other over with shopping carts reaching for those coveted discounted items. This annual event has not always put brands in the best light with news stories about staff and shoppers alike getting trampled or fights between parents over a toy. This consumerism craze instills a need and pressure to purchase items at a low price when in reality not all of the sales are that great anyway.
Black Friday is a Big Event, But Maybe Not Good for Your Brand
In 2016 it was estimated that about 51 million people participated in Black Friday, spending about $5 billion in 24 hours. But should Black Friday be a big deal for YOUR brand? Companies spend a significant amount of time and money developing their brand. Is a fistfight over an item on synch with your family-friendly brand? Is the hyper-consumerism of Black Friday in line with your eco-friendly brand? We are becoming more aware of how our consumerist habits are affecting the environment and drastically heightening the amount of waste created from retail products alone, so why participate in an event that encourages hyper-consumerism?
Brands Pushing Back
You may remember the Black Friday Ad that Patagonia ran in The New York Times “Don’t Buy This Jacket” in 2011 acknowledging the brand’s own carbon footprint and effect on the environment while encouraging their consumers to shop less. This is a brand that requires their products to be durable and functional- their customers have the option to send in damaged clothing, no matter how old, for repairs instead of buying a replacement.
REI, an outdoor and sporting goods retailer, launched its Black Friday Campaign #OptOutside in 2015 closing down their stores for the day while encouraging their audience to spend the day outside. This year they went further by organizing Clean Up crews across the nation throughout the month of November and provided resources online on how to reduce and properly dispose of waste.
Alternatively in 2015, Cards Against Humanity, a brand is known for pushing the envelope, took their website offline for Black Friday and sent out an email asking their audience for $5 for “the ability to buy nothing from us”. Many people did donate $5 and some even more. Cards Against Humanity made of profit of $71,145 and gave it to their employees and afterward transparently broke down how the money was spent. The lists range from various electronics to grocery store items but all of their employees still donated a significant portion to charities of their choice.
Recently, Deciem, the skin-care company behind The Ordinary, released a statement announcing that they will no longer be participating in the traditional Black Friday experience. Instead, Deciem will be closing down all their store locations for the day and blacking out their website during this time. A statement on their social media says:
“We have just done something we have never done before. A 23% discount is now available across every product from every brand at DECIEM.com, and at our cosy standalone stores around the world. The saving will be available for the next month, so there really is no need to hurry.”
This sale encourages shoppers to “shop slow” and to purchase with consideration instead of buying on impulse due to the pressure of missing out on a sale. This allows a shopper time to consider if they even need this product. As their brand statement states, “Hyper-consumerism poses one of the biggest threats to the planet, and flash sales can often lead to rushed purchasing decisions, driven by the fear of a sell-out. We no longer feel that Black Friday is earth or consumer-friendly event, and have therefore decided to close our website and stores for a moment of nothingness”. While they are closing down for Black Friday, for the rest of November all of their products are available at 23% off.
This is an alternative way that this brand can bring value and savings to their audience while being more consumer and environment-friendly. For Deceim, this is a great way to allow people to be flexible with their shopping and to really evaluate what products will be best for their skin goals and concerns giving a chance to convert shoppers and keep their current consumers. Successfully doing something different from other brands while merging it with brand values always makes for a great marketing strategy.