With Black Friday fast approaching, we see retailers desperately trying to draw in shoppers in any way they can, often barely selling above floor price. Last year it was reported that American shoppers spent $5 Billion dollars in 24 hours. (Australia’s not immune either. In 2018 shoppers here are estimated to have spent $1 billion online across the four days known as Black Friday Cyber Monday or BCFM).
However, as most retailers prepare themselves for one of the biggest days, for the fourth year in a row, one well loved company in the US is closing its doors for the day.
REI, originally known as Recreational Equipment Inc is an American retail co-operative that sells sporting goods, camping gear, travel equipment and general outdoor apparel.
4 years ago in the lead up to Black Friday, REI announced that it would be closing all 143 of their stores- including their online shop, giving all of its staff a paid day of leave. REI also encouraged customers and staff to get away from the consumerist shopping frenzy and head outside to enjoy the beautiful national parks, rivers and mountains. As a result of the #OptOutside campaign, REI saw a 7000% increase in social media mentions, creating 2.7 billion PR impressions within 24 hours. The campaign also resulted in a 9.3% increase in revenue for the retailer, and saw 1 million new members join the co-op.
Since its launch #OptOutside has been adopted as a movement by individuals, as well as other organisations who have joined them in closing their doors. For its 2017 campaign, REI collected consumer generated content and collated it using an experiential search engine.
#OptOutside has now become an annual campaign for REI, however this year they are looking to take it one step forward. As well as asking consumers to spend their day outside rather than shopping, REI invites consumers to join them in the fight against climate change and #OptToAct - by picking up litter they see when they’re outdoors.
As a part of the campaign REI has also released a 52 step plan for consumers to reduce their respective carbon footprints inspired by common misconception that the climate crisis is outside of the hands of individuals. The 52 week plan was revealed in a letter written by REI’s new CEO Eric Artz, where he stated;
“My job is to steward the co-op, and the outdoors, on your behalf – and on behalf of the generations who follow us. Today, that future is at risk. We are in the throes of an environmental crisis that threatens not only the next 81 years of the co-op, but the incredible outdoor places that we love.”
#OptToAct builds on REI’s #OptOutside campaign message and is closely aligned with their purpose of being stewards of the outdoors. They join the fast-growing movement of other organisations putting environmental action front and centre of their marketing efforts…
Patagonia, whose very reason for existence is to save the planet and who consistently run educational campaigns and take action.
Corona, whose partnership with Parley for the Oceans centres around a 3 year commitment to protect 100 islands by 2020, which they bring to life through beach clean-ups and educational stunts and activation world-wide.
American Express who have also partnered with Parley for the Oceans, have unveiled the first-ever card made primarily with reclaimed plastic collected from beaches, islands & coastal communities. They have also enabled their card members to send back their expired cards to Amex for recycling. And they’ve pledged to eliminate single-use plastics across their own operations globally.
Ben & Jerrys who have been long-standing climate activists worldwide.
Country Road and their Chadstone Green Store and introduction of sustainable fashion ranges as part of their aim of becoming leaders in sustainability.
We could go on… but you get the picture.
Businesses through their brands are stepping up to tackle what governments around the world are failing to do; inviting consumers to take action. And consumers are answering the call.
This is what business as a force for good looks like; brands and marketing driving profit through purpose. Action and collaboration to achieve real impact.
Exciting, isn’t it?
REMEMBER, doing good is good for business. So if you're not doing any good... what are you doing?
P.S. When you're ready, here are 3 more ways I can help you to build your Social Purpose strategy: