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Brief Published: 17 Nov 2020

Black Friday 2020: Brand Backlash


Countering the hyper-consumption traditionally associated with Black Friday’s time-pressured mega discounting, 2020 sees more brands making a stand by promoting pushback. From store closures and twinned brand/consumer donations to eco-ethical causes, to resales-centric messaging and pandemic-attuned mission statements, we outline the key initiatives for November 27.

With 61% of UK consumers saying they’re mindful of the eco-ethical impact of Black Friday purchases (KPMG, 2019), such initiatives key into an increasingly prevalent attitude.

Allbirds Raises Prices & Matches Donations

Consciously reversing the trend for slashing prices in order to make its point, US footwear brand Allbirds is raising prices for Black Friday to support the fight against climate change. On the day, everything will increase in price by $1. This will be matched by Allbirds, which makes its products from sustainable natural materials. The proceeds will be donated to teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future foundation. See also The Brief.

Patagonia Promotes Circularity

American outdoor gear brand Patagonia is once again forgoing Black Friday, switching discounting in favour of promoting its recommerce platform Worn Wear on its homepage. The platform provides resources for responsible care and recycling for garments, as well as the opportunity to purchase both deadstock and used Patagonia items, which helps to avoid landfill and overproduction. See also Maximising the Resales Opportunity: New Tools & Tactics.

Freitag Redirects to Resales

Similarly, Swiss brand Freitag – which makes bags from recycled tarpaulin – is closing its website on Black Friday, directing customers to its bag-swap platform instead. Called S.W.A.P (Shopping Without Any Payment), the platform allows customers to exchange their bags with other Freitag bag owners for free. See also, ‘Backlash Branding’: Retail for Romantic Regrets in Valentine’s Day 2020: Brand Engagement Strategies.

REI’s Microsite Resonates

US outdoor apparel brand REI is continuing its #OptOutside campaign (now in its sixth year). This year, REI will shut all its retail locations, company HQ and distribution centres – and employees will be paid to spend the day outdoors. Amplified by an accompanying microsite, the brand’s message is especially resonant during the pandemic.

See also Black Friday 2020: Tools & Tactics.