Will you #OptOutside This Black Friday?

Shortly before Halloween REI made a shocking announcement saying that they would be closing all their stores on Black Friday.

As someone who studied marketing in college I was immediately interested to hear the specifics of REI’s plan to boycott the busiest day in all of retail. Although they’re take a huge risk, REI did 2 things to marketing perfection:

1. They made a bold move

Retailers like Costco and Nordstrom have taken what many thought were bold stands in the past and have refused to open on Thanksgiving day, but never has a major store gone as far as to completely close on Black Friday. When REI announced their plan to close, it was all over every news channel. Their move was so bold that simply announcing it got them press.

2. They used that bold move to start a movement

They could have just closed their doors and said they thought all the Black Friday hoopla was excessive and they didn’t want to take part in it, but they took it a step farther. They created a hashtag (#OptOutside) and have dedicated an entire website to the cause complete with resources on local hiking trails.

rei-no-black-FridayREI’s message is that getting outside and exploring is a better way to spend our time instead of shopping. Because REI is an outdoor gear and sporting goods retailer, this is a message that aligns perfectly with the message that their customers already respond to. Their customers already value the outdoors and fitness, and the #OptOutside movement only re-affirms to their customers how important the lifestyle they serve is.

REI is making a well calculated move that will sting them at first (Black Friday is notoriously the best day of the year for retail), but has the ability to reward them 1,000 times over, with new or more loyal shoppers who like what they stand for as a company, and therefore want to give them more business.

As an REI shopper and as someone with some marketing knowledge I love their move and am eager to see the response to it this Black Friday.

Are you a Black Friday Shopper? What do you think of REI’s move? Have they convinced you to #OptOutside?

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  • I love that REI has taken this bold move; I think more companies need to jump on board. I’m not sure why ‘Black Friday’ has become such a thing but it makes me sad to see how materialistic people have become. That said, I do appreciate ways to save money but not all the chaos and emphasis on materialism that comes from that day.

    We’re having our Boden Thanksgiving on Friday evening but I plan to get outside for a long walk beforehand! Happy (early) Thanksgiving 🙂

    • carrie

      I couldn’t agree with you more Di! I love a good deal when it comes to shopping, but i am definitely not a “competitive” shopper and i don’t understand the black friday craziness that takes place. have a great Thanksgiving, Di!

  • I’ve always hated Black Friday and avoided it like the plague and I love REI’s move. I agree they were the right company to start this – fits perfectly with their brand and their customer base is likely to cheer the move (and I think they have). I like it! I think all this Black Friday stuff has gotten totally out of control, but customers need to stop showing up earlier and earlier for it to really die out. As long as customers seem to want it, stores will open earlier and earlier!

    • carrie

      I agree that we as the consumers are mostly to blame for the escalating madness of black friday. if we as a culture weren’t obsessed with needing all the latest and greatest there wouldn’t be as much pressure on retailers to open earlier and earlier. glad to hear you’re right there with me avoiding all the shopping madness! 🙂

  • I LOVE what REI is doing. I think it’s brilliant on their part and it makes me want to shop there more. Plus, as someone who is dealing with the Black Friday craze from an advertising perspective, it makes me appreciate them even more 😉

    • carrie

      ahh i forgot all about that!! i’m sure you’re especially ready for it all to be over with! and i completely agree that this move makes me want to give them more business in the future.

  • I love REI – the type of company they are, their values, and how they’re acting on them instead of just speaking them.

    I’m not a big Black Friday shopper on purpose. I do patronize small businesses that day and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.

    But the morning of this black Friday will find me opting outside on the beach!

    • carrie

      “acting on their values instead of just speaking them”…you said it perfectly, Steph! The beach sounds like a much better way to spend your time then standing in line at some store 🙂