Black Friday is once again behind the corner, and this always poses the same question to sustainable and social impact entrepreneurs. Should I prepare a Black Friday campaign and compromise my values? Or stay out of it and miss out on the visibility that the biggest sales event of the year brings?
Well, what if I told you you can have both? But let’s start from the beginning.
What is the problem with Black Friday?
Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, so that means is the last Friday of November. Although this date and its nickname had originally had nothing to do with bargain shopping, today is a critical date on the sales and marketing calendar. No longer an American-only tradition, BlackFriday is now a worldwide event.
But Black Friday feeds on overconsumption and impulse buys – things I strongly believe to be incompatible with conscious consumerism. And I am not the only one, many sustainably-minded brands of the size of Patagonia and Allbirds have made the choice to boycott Black Friday.
Black Friday also puts small businesses between a rock and a hard place. Since they are usually operating on already quite tight margins, they can’t possibly offer the bargains retail giants can. The price war that takes place on this day is one that they can’t possibly win.
So…what can small and sustainable businesses do to still be visible on the biggest retail day of the year without compromising their values (and their bottom line)? We have some ideas.
Sustainable alternatives to BLACKFRIDAY sales
Instead of joining a war you can’t win, use this high-engagement period to connect with your audience in a way that properly represents your values. We are not alone in this fight – in fact, many sustainability and social-impact advocates have already come out with great ideas on how to turn Black Friday on its head.
Here are some options of movements you can join this year
1. TRANSPARENT FRIDAY
Instead of discounting your product, give your audience visibility on your costs and pricing. Break down for them how much do you spend on materials, how much do you pay your staff and suppliers, how much you invest in promotion and R&D..and what is your actual profit margin. Help them understand why ethical products have a higher price tag and why is it worth it.
The image below is from the “Smart Fashion” Spanish brand Sepiia. On it, they show the different costs that go into making one shirt as well as their margin. They also tell the customer how do they spend that margin. I think this is a fantastic way to show transparency, generate trust and engage with the right audience.
The OptOutside movement urges people to skin the shopping spree and, instead, go out and enjoy everything nature has to offer. Encourage your followers to go out for a hike, a walk in the park, or a swim on the beach. You can tell them to tag you on their Instagram stories or posts, or even take your team on a little picnic to NOT celebrate Black Friday.
The Outdoor brand Rei is the MVP on this initiative. Their shops close on BlackFriday and they create amazing campaigns every year to inspire their audience to take the Friday off and spend it enjoying some fresh air. This campaign is genius because not only does it help them build community, but is also urging their customers to shop from them before that date and show off their new gear when they #optoutside on BlackFriday.
3. GIVING TUESDAY
Tuesday after Thanksgiving is Givingtuesday , a “global generosity movement” that encourages both brands and consumers to give back in whatever way they can. You can “officially” join in on the movement through their website and find a local collective near you.
If you are not sure where to start, they will direct you towards causes and projects that need attention. But you can also simply take this day as an opportunity to donate to causes you care about, do some pro-bono work with clients that can’t afford your services, or give your team the day off to volunteer at a local shelter o a beach clean-up.
4. GREEN FRIDAY
If Black Friday is about getting people to buy more, Green Friday is about helping them shop more mindfully. It’s a perfect occasion to show your audience how you work and educate them on sustainable practices. You can, for example, give them a tour of your factory or atelier. You could introduce them to the team that makes your products, or talk to them about the materials you choose and why.
Or what about organizing a workshop on how to repair or upcycle products, or do a series of videos to explain to them the best way to clean and store your products. Take this opportunity not only to engage with your community but to fight overconsumption with information.
Show them that “buying new” is not the only option.
As an example we can look at IKEA’s Green Friday campaign for this year. They are encouraging customers to bring back their used furniture and get in exchange a voucher they can use to buy new things in the future. This is part of the brand’s initiatives towards circularity.
These are just some of the ways you can give your brand visibility without resorting to crazy discounts. Which one you should use? Well, that’s a great question.
I would advise you to come up with a campaign that aligns with your particular values and the goals you have for your brand at the moment. You can use this opportunity to build a community, increase the perceived value of your brand or amp up your engagement rates.
I am personally joining the GivingTuesday movement, and I am keeping my agenda on the 30th November 2021 open for FREE 1h mentorship sessions for Sustainable and impact-driven entrepreneurs. If you are struggling with anything regarding brand strategy, customer profiling and journeys, product and pricing strategy, or marketing and communication strategies – click here to book a session 👇
Or if you prefer to do things by yourself, try checking out my book The Passion Entrepreneur. It’s available both in paperback and Kindle version.