How Will You Be Spending Black Friday?

It’s been a difficult year for a lot of reasons, so I was glad to see an email I was expecting from REI pop up in my inbox a few weeks ago. And the headline above was the subject line.
Just like it did last year, the outdoor retailer is closing on Black Friday and paying its employees to take a break and play outdoors. Or as they put it, #OptOutside.

It’s been a challenging year for a lot of reasons, so I was glad to see an email I was expecting from REI pop up in my inbox a few weeks ago. And the headline above was the subject line.

Just like it did last year, the outdoor retailer is closing on Black Friday and paying its employees to take a break and play outdoors. Or as they put it, #OptOutside.

They’re not alone. Over 350 organizations have taken the ball and run with it this time, planning all kinds of cool things around the event.

As REI says, “Let’s help each other spend more of our minutes outside.” What a great sentiment!

For example, the website has a simple search tool that lets you find the activities that may interest you. So, if you like trail running, or climbing, and you want to bring the kids and the dog along, they can hook you up.

It’s a great way for REI to build on its brand identity in a more competitive niche while also driving sales down the line.

reioptBut what I really about this campaign is that it’s something that’s not explicitly anti-consumerism. It’s not so much about “opting out” of buying, but “opting In” to spending more time, outside, in nature, with our friends and loved ones. All of the values that REI embraces and promotes.

It makes even more sense when you consider that REI has re-emphasized the “co-op” nature of its business in its branding in the last several years. Its 6 million-plus members are all owners of the company.

People want to be customers of a company that’s authentic. A company that understands that life (and shopping) is about more than battling traffic and crowds to get a deep discount on snowshoes or activity trackers. It’s about creating and helping customers discover meaningful experiences. Any company that pays its own employees to recharge their batteries in the great outdoors  isn’t talking the talk … it’s walking the walk.

As for me, I’m going to run off my Thanksgiving dinner and head out for some fresh air the day after, bright and early. See you out there!

Marketers, what do you think of this growing trend to scale back shopping on Thanksgiving and Black Friday? Are there brands that you appreciate for being counter-intuitive during the holiday season? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

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