Black Friday. It’s a discount and deals dogfight. It’s the day of the year where brands battle it out to catch the eye of the consumer, and with Brits projected to spend a whopping £7 billion, why wouldn’t it be?
With slashed prices, product launches and more deals than you can shake a stick at, it’s no wonder November 29th is the biggest shopping date in the UK calendar. With consumers on a mission to fill stockings and empty wallets, let the battle of the brands commence.
Yet, with overconsumption on the rise, Black Friday manages to harnesses the worst in unconscious consumerism. It’s the mass marketing campaign on steroids – buy more, buy cheaper and buy faster. Whether you need it or not.
In 2018, Brits wasted a staggering £3.9bn on Black Friday purchases they never used or don’t even remember buying (Ethical Hour). If this wasn’t bad enough, of those who had Black Friday regret, only 43% returned the item back to the retailer. This means thousands of products left unloved and unused and destined for landfill.
For an eco-conscious brand, Black Friday is a nightmare. On one hand, your brand stands against overconsumption, waste product and mindless purchasing. On the other hand, your business needs profit to function and to continue to do good. Not only this but pushing ethically made, sustainable products is better than pushing the alternative, right?
As marketing experts, we think about this daily, in fact, it keeps us up at night. We’re mindful of pushing people into buying products they don’t need, but equally, we want to give a platform to those brands that putting their purpose over profit, and doing good.
So, over many cups of Yorkshire Tea, we’ve come up with three personalities to inspire your brand, to ensure you’re staying true to your ethical roots and using Black Friday as a force for good.
The Rebel isn’t afraid to change the game, they’re bold, full of personality and ready to shake things up. This isn’t an approach for the faint-hearted.
They’re purpose-driven and take some serious steps to showcase their values by highlighting how they truly put their purpose over profit. Try taking a leaf out of REI’s book, who “closed for good” on last year’s Black Friday, giving its 12,287 staff paid holiday. This move was an attempt to inspire its customers, and employees, to get exploring in the great outdoors instead of shopping. We don’t know about you but we’re feeling inspired…
Think shutting down on Black Friday sounds crazy? REI’s chief executive Jerry Stritzke says it was the right decision: “We did not experience any negative consequence financially from doing this move last year.”
So what’s the trick to pulling this off seamlessly? Communication. Make sure you’re as open as possible with your followers and let them know as early as possible what your brand is looking to do, and why. This way you might even be able to encourage your customers to do the same and ditch their wallets on Black Friday.
The Brand Builder
We know rebellion isn’t for everyone, so if you want to show off your brand’s purpose and personality, without causing too much of a commotion, look no further.
So what’s the idea? To showcase to your followers that you’re true to your values, without ruffling too many feathers. By actively choosing to not participate in Black Friday, and highlighting why, you’re able to show how your brand’s mindful of the harm Black Friday can bring.
By not participating in Black Friday, you are reassuring your fans that you stick to your word. Yes, you need to sell products for your business to survive, but your purpose over profit approach means you’re willing to sacrifice Black Friday sales to emphasise your values.
This helps create trust between you and your customers, which in turn leads to strong brand loyalty. Sure, you may not have a spike in sales on Black Friday but you will have long term gain as you build trust with your fans.
Just look at Veja, they used to take part in Black Friday until last year, when they decided it was time to take a stand. Speaking out on their social media, the brand said: “We took part but we felt bad every time. We felt bad because we don’t like this craziness, we don’t like that everybody is pushed to buy products they don’t necessarily need and that we may even not use.”
You’re a business that’s committed to doing good, but how can you do better on Black Friday? There are still ways to actively participate, and in fact, use this as an opportunity to give back to those who need it most.
Black Friday means sales, which in turn means profits. And for us, we’re never a fan of seeing the jangling pockets of Fast Fashion brands or those businesses who’re lacking in good, investing in the bad and dealing in the ugly. Black Friday is an amazing time to make a profit, so what better way to harness this opportunity and showcase your purpose than donating this profit to charities which reflect your cause.
Sure, make some sales, maybe offer some discounts but send the majority, or all of your profits, to charity. Now that’s radical.
Alternatively, use the extra profit you generate on this day to power and enhance your companies pre-existing sustainability practises or practises your keen to implement. There’s always room for improvement and making your business a stronger vehicle for positive change is one-way Black Friday can work for good.
Let’s look at sustainability-dons, Patagonia. In 2016, they donated 100% of sales to grassroots organisations working to create positive change for the planet. This totally changed the way purposeful brands interact with Black Friday and set an important movement in motion.
In short, Black Friday might not align with your values. It’s about crazy deals, overconsumption and impulse buys, however, it is possible to harness the power of this global event and use it as a force for good. The question is no longer how can Black Friday possibly work with my ethical brand, but how can my ethical brand work Black Friday?
Here are five tips for doing Back Friday for good…
- Use your voice and make some noise
- Hold up a mirror and reflect on what you can do as a company to be better
- Be honest and open about what you stand for
- Call your followers to action
- Remind yourself that you are doing your best