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Boycott Black Friday Next Year? 

Just hours after families in North America gave thanks for all that they already had, marketers lured their attention to all the things they didn’t yet. And the numbers are out, it appears said marketers did a spectacular job this year. According to a report by the National Retail Federation, this year’s Black Friday long weekend exceeded expectations, bringing the total tally to 197 million shoppers, each spending an average of $325.44 during the period. Adobe Analytics also claimed previous records were broken as online sales reached a staggering $35.37 billion.

But we’re not here just to talk large numbers. At Rival, we like to shine the light on those that go against the grain — in this case, those who tried to bust typical Black Friday traditions. Here’s a list of brands that did it differently, and switched up their Black Friday marketing this year:

  • 👜 Pre-loved fashion marketplace Vestiaire Collective banned fast fashion brands from its platform this Black Friday. The move affected about 5% of the listings but succeeded in positioning the brand as a progressive, high-end reseller in an increasingly competitive industry.
  • 💄Beauty brand Deceim removed time pressures from the weekend, encouraging conscious, slow consumption with an ongoing ‘Slowvember’ sale. All month the brand offered a 23% discount, with the one exception of the ‘Transaction Free’ 25th, in a stand against the day of hyper-consumerism.
  • 🌲Outdoor apparel brand Patagonia advocated taking a second look at items already in consumer closets rather than adding new ones to the basket. The company hosted repair and upcycling workshops at all of its retail stores for Black Friday, and in line with this move was able to make a push for its pre-loved, worn-wear line over the weekend. 
  • 🫶REI, an outdoor retail and recreation services cooperative, put its money where its mouth was and stepped back from selling over Black Friday completely. In a commitment to permanently closing stores under the #OptOutside campaign, employees are always given a paid day off on Black Friday to spend time outside.
  • 🪑The furniture company IKEA launched a ‘Green Friday’ campaign this year asking customers to sell their used furnishings back to the store in exchange for credit and further discounts. 

Countless others offered to donate portions of their sales to charities instead, and some, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, simply said thank you — humanizing their brands without even the slightest nudge for consumerism.  

The takeaway for brands?

If everyone is assaulting consumers with an out-of-this-world discount, it can be hard to stand out with just another -X% sign.

Steer clear of pressures to hack prices if you want to position your brand as premium. If every year there comes a time when products are sold at a reduced price, brand equity takes a hit, as customers wonder if they’re paying a fair price the rest of the time. If environmental sustainability is part of your brand story or you make a point of employee-wellbeing, then slashing prices to fit in won’t cut it. Instead, swap promotions for solidifying brand identity, voice values and philosophies, or celebrate employees this time of year. Resistance for the sake of a noble cause can result in additional positive media coverage — and you’ll even make our Rival list next year ;)

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