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What REI's Black Friday Announcement Could Mean for Their Brand

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REI is encouraging people to #optoutside this Black Friday.

When is store closure a good move for a company? With 20 percent of retail sales occurring between the Friday after Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, you'd think that a retailer would want to stay open on Black Friday, the kickoff day of the Christmas shopping season. Not so for REI, retail seller of outdoor wear and sports gear. REI's announcement that its employees will be granted paid holidays on Thanksgiving and Black Friday has turned into a positive marketing move for the company, which could very well result in additional retail sales this holiday season.

The Reaction to REI's Closure

The reaction to REI's decision has been mixed, but overall, social media has jumped on the bandwagon. While most retailers will still be open on Black Friday, others, such as Ikea and Bed, Bath, and Beyond, have decided that they're going to be closed on Thanksgiving to allow their employees and customers to spend time with family and friends. By stating that it values outdoor time spent with family and friends more than it values Black Friday, REI has positioned itself as a renegade with strong family values.

REI's social media campaign, recognizable by #optoutside, encourages people to share what they'll be doing on the holiday weekend.

REI's Choice is in Line With Its Branding

With a goal to become zero waste by 2020 and a commitment to green energy purchases and carbon neutral vacation packages, REI is known for its focus on green initiatives. This decision is entirely on point for the company and, in fact, it will likely bring in new customers. Even those who've never visited REI before will now associate it with family and outdoor values. While many retailers are closed on Thanksgiving, REI's decision to close on Black Friday as well is a cost to the business, but it's also a well-calculated advertising move that has brought invaluable media attention to REI's brand.

REI's decision not only positions it as a family-friendly brand, it's also a well-planned social media campaign. REI has a featured site that focuses on its Black Friday initiative. With its #optoutside hashtag, REI has turned a simple statement about family and the outdoors into an online marketing campaign. Customers can visit the website and choose from pre-selected photos of different natural sites, posting these online to share with family and friends. They can also upload their own photos to show what they'll be doing this Thanksgiving holiday. This move has turned an anti-consumer action into a clever social media strategy by allowing customers to identify with the REI brand through the social sharing of an image and an inclusive hashtag.

Web Sales Are Still Open

While many of REI's customers might hit the forests and family dinners on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, many others will still be shopping at REI. Web-based sales are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, making shopping more convenient for those who want to spend time with friends and family this holiday season. REI's campaign is well-poised to increase their web-based sales this holiday season.

While REI seems to have hit on a great strategy for Black Friday, it's not one that every retail environment can use. If your local, independent bookstore, for example, announced that it would stay closed on Black Friday so people could stay home and read, it's likely that no one would notice since it doesn't have the heft of a nationally recognized chain store. It's another reminder that in the marketing world, it's never one size fits all. 

 

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