We’ve all been part of the rush to figure out gifts for family and friends as the end of the year approaches. Many companies even recommend starting holiday shopping months in advance to avoid shipping delays or out-of-stock notifications. The holiday season often means a busy time for brands — and that’s what events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday intend to capitalize on.
But consumer sentiments are changing. People are questioning and expecting more of the brands they shop from. Brands themselves are also saying no to the flash flood of demand and the rush to supply. In this article, we want to highlight how businesses can use the shopping season as an opportunity to do good instead of encouraging the same old consumer habits while maintaining a strong brand purpose.
Highlighting other businesses to support
Instead of sharing discounts, some businesses choose to highlight small businesses to support in a bid to give back to the community and discourage excess consumerism.
Ocean Bottle, a reusable bottle brand, highlighted other businesses to support and why on Twitter and Instagram. The reason, they shared, was to “…show how consumers can be a force for good by highlighting a few small brands that could use [your] support that ‘do good’ too.”
The businesses Ocean Bottle highlighted also fit with the mission to ‘do good.’ One of them was From Babies with Love, a “purpose-led sustainable gifting brand” that donates 100% of its profits to orphaned and abandoned children worldwide.
DAME, a sustainable period products company, took its spotlight a step further, highlighting small businesses in one post and educating consumers in another.
Along with Black Friday encouraging people to buy more than they need, one of the key statistics highlighted by DAME’s educative post was illuminating on the push for more sustainable practices during the shopping season: eighty percent of clothes from Black Friday sales end up in a landfill.
There are specific days for highlighting small businesses around the shopping season as well. Check out our article on Small Business Saturday for some more ideas.
Donate a percentage of your profits instead
In recent years, more brands have switched up their Black Friday marketing strategy by supporting social causes instead. Many brands choose to donate the profits from their shopping season sales on Giving Tuesday or independent of any particular event.
Misfits Market is a sustainable grocery company that allows customers to shop for groceries in curated boxes that would have been thrown out at big-chain supermarkets. Instead of offering discounts on Black Friday, they partner with Feeding America to donate money and meals through their skipped box donation program. Customers can choose to donate their order instead of just skipping it to earn points.
Grove Collaborative, a home goods company, also skipped Black Friday altogether for Giving Tuesday, allowing customers to donate or gift a donation to a chosen cause.
Stasher Bags, a reusable bag brand, highlighted the benefits of shopping from a sustainable brand and offered a discount.
In addition, they highlighted that they donate 1 percent of their profits year-round and made an additional pledge of $50,000 to the Surfrider foundation during Black Friday.
Skipping Black Friday entirely to do something different and make a statement
Some businesses choose to skip Black Friday entirely, creating their own spin on the event. Rubies in the Rubble, a condiments brand, shared that they would be doing Green Friday – a day to shop from small, sustainable brands instead of Black Friday.
In another post, Rubies in the Rubble asked their audience to tag small businesses to shop from.
Ombar Chocolate also chose to do Green Friday instead of Black Friday by highlighting other small businesses and donating all the profits from products sold to Fundación Jocotoco, a nature-focused nonprofit organization.
Paynter, a sustainable fashion brand, chose to donate instead of discounts for Black Friday. Paynter’s animosity towards the season can be linked to its brand ethos to create a better way to consume clothing.
The brand only releases new products in batches, so its business model doesn’t lend itself to Black Friday as it is currently practiced anyway. But they choose to actively take a stance against Black Friday, going as far as closing shop entirely in October 2020 and instead starting their now popular Paynter at the Pub meetups.
Like Paynter, This is Unfolded is a sustainable fashion brand trying to encourage low-waste consumption. The brand creates made-to-order clothes, only making an item when an order has been completed. The company created ‘Do Good Friday,’ a way for their customers to shop better and positively impact the world simultaneously.
The idea is to highlight businesses and practices that don’t encourage waste or purchase regret, as Black Friday does.
One of the best ways to approach Black Friday from a new perspective is by encouraging conscious consumption – often easier if your brand already adopts sustainable practices. You can keep to the traditional Black Friday style of offering discounts or new products while also encouraging consumers to shop sustainably.
This is the approach that Pela, a phone case company, took by doing regular Black Friday promotions through discounts while highlighting how shopping from them benefits the planet. In addition to supporting a small business, shopping at Pela means that customers donate to 1 Percent For The Planet, a nonprofit whose partners contribute 1 percent of their sales to environmental causes.
Wild, a natural deodorant brand, conducted a campaign in tandem with their Black Friday promotion, pledging to plant a tree with every order made.
On their blog, Wild shared their motivations for approaching Black Friday in this manner, saying, “As a small company, we cannot stop the waste that all Black Friday sales will cause by not taking part. Instead, we’re using this time as an opportunity to challenge shopping habits for the better and propel sustainable products into the mainstream.”
EYO Active, a fitness wear brand, took an interesting approach to Black Friday by raising their prices by 300 percent.
The founder, Lucie Halley-Trotter, shared in an Instagram post that she started EYO to tackle waste, not create it.
The post went on to say, “Every year, the big brands inflate and then slash their prices and pressure people into buying things they don’t need, and a whopping 80 percent of it ends up in landfill. As a business on a mission to empower women and get people to reappraise their relationship with fast fashion, I refuse to play ball. So, instead of cutting my prices for the weekend, I’m tripling them.”
Lucie shared that they didn’t make any sales from this tactic – but that was the point. “We used this ‘holiday’ to show the world that we stand strongly behind our core morals,” she said. The campaign was well-received among consumers, as the brand shared in a follow-up post, showing that perhaps consumers are also looking for more sustainable ways to shop.
Most businesses find a lot of success around the shopping season, so it’s not practical to expect everyone to take a firm stance against Black Friday or Cyber Monday. There are other ways to take advantage of the season without encouraging overconsumption, and these brands have proven it.
What are your thoughts on Black Friday? Do you often find that you make more sales and get more customers during this period? We’d love to hear your thoughts over on Twitter @buffer.