4 Brands Rethinking Black Friday Cyber Monday Retail Strategies

Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Many retailers around the world rely on Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) as the biggest sales event of their year.

But this year, some brands did things a little differently. In some cases, they began the holiday deal season a little earlier, giving buyers access to deals on Monday and not just Friday, like lingerie company Fleur de Mal, who moved up their sale date before the weekend. 

But Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren't celebrated the same way across the board for retailers. In some regions, like China and Bangladesh, it isn’t a thing at all. As a major manufacturer of U.S. goods, Bangladesh actually holds climate protests to oppose the high demands that come with the holiday. In other parts, retailers use this time to promote thoughtful, ethical purchasing. Some brands even chose not to discount but offered all of their profits that weekend to charities of their choice.

Yes, the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale season increases revenue for many retailers every year, but it’s also evolving.

Here are a few ways brands did BFCM a little differently this year.

Immersive retail experiences, not things

This year, Allbirds chose to close their Covent Garden location in London, U.K., in favor of conscious consumption. With the smart tagline, “Black Friday? We’re Not Buying It,” the sustainable sneaker brand decided to close their physical store for retail and open it up for something else entirely. Consumers were encouraged to stop by for live music, and free workshops like crafting pom poms, and wreath making.

That said, Allbirds still debuted three brand new sneakers exclusive to Black Friday. But by offering an in-store experience of crafting, for example, and a limited run of new products, Allbirds decided that both sides of the retail experience were valid. Buyers could choose between purchasing a new product or being into a store for an activity or both or neither.

When buying becomes donating

For clothing brand Kotn, who has historically given back to Egyptian communities, BFCM became another opportunity to include buyers in their charitable efforts. Instead of going on sale, the brand decided to take all of their profits from the BFCM weekend to building two new primary schools in Egypt. Kotn donates one percent of their profits year round as is, but, since 2017, they have prioritized education for communities in Egypt. One such, Sakrana, allowed an entire generation of kids access to education and became the first in this community to read and write. This year, their donations went toward building schools in the Nile Delta and Faiyum. Proceeds went toward building schools, school supplies, training teachers, hygiene kits, and medical care. 

Every year Everlane deploys a similar, ethical tactic when it comes to BFCM. Over the years, Everlane pushed to support sustainable practices in factories. They have raised over $800,000 to support this. This year, Everlane took $10 from every purchase on Black Friday and put it toward Oceana, an organization dedicated to restoring the oceans, and their campaign against single-use plastics. Everlane’s Black Friday Fund is projected to have raised almost $1 million by the end of 2019..

Retailers promoting conscious consuming

A Good Company is primarily concerned with consuming goods consciously, which has been baked into the young brand’s DNA from day one. This year, A Good Company participated in Green November, where, for every $11 USD, a tree would be planted. 

A Good Company noted in an Instagram post that, consumers and some brands neglect to think about the environmental impact of such an enormous amount of buying during BFCM. They still gave their customers a 15% discount but, as they promote throughout their brand and with the products they sell, they encouraged buyers to think about what they need versus what they want and if, through that purchase, they could give back to the environment. 

BFCM is no doubt an important part of every retailer’s year. But the strategies above—whether it’s no sale or donating proceeds—show a different side to the shopping season. Buying doesn’t need to be mindless; it can consciously go toward helping a community or the planet. Or, such as the case in Europe this year, there can be a conscious push to not participate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday to in turn help retailers’ bottomline, encouraging consistent and deliberate purchasing year-round. Many consumers are more likely to buy more from a company that has a strong ethical core so, while not having a sale during Black Friday and Cyber Monday removes a lot of brands from the global event, revenue is still picked up elsewhere with a potential for return and loyal customers.

About the author

Sarah MacDonald

Sarah MacDonald is a culture writer and editor based in Toronto. Her words can be found in the Globe and MailHazlitt, The Walrus, CBC Arts, Elle Canada, VICE, and many more. She currently works as a content writer at Shopify Plus.

Check out Sarah MacDonald’s work