The PR lesson from REI kissing Black Friday goodbye

03 December 2019 12:15

The popular shopping event Black Friday attracted nearly 154 million consumers in stores and online in 2016, per National Retail Federation data. While this revenue opportunity certainly benefits shopping establishments across the world, some stores are choosing to forego Black Friday. Popular retailers like Barnes & Noble, Cabela's, H&M, IKEA and Lowe's will not be open for the annual event. Instead of having large sales and keeping their doors open for extended hours, they're choosing to let their employees stay home and enjoy the holidays with their families.

Leading this initiative is American retailer REI. The outdoor recreation services corporation is choosing to close all of its 143 retail locations, headquarters and two distribution centers on Black Friday for the second year in a row. Although the company may miss out on gained revenue that particular day, its current #OptOutside campaign may still bring boons for the bottom line and brand reputation.

"REI is inspiring customers to spend the holidays with family outdoors."

Why REI is choosing to #OptOutside
Instead of inviting consumers to shop at its stores on Black Friday, REI created the
#OptOutside campaign, which encourages customers to check out its website for hiking trails, mountain destinations and other outdoor excursions. It's inspiring consumers to make the most of the holiday season by spending it with family and friends outdoors, not following shopping trends. Jerry Stritzke, president and CEO of REI, said that life is much "richer, more connected and complete" when it's spent outside, which inspired him to kiss Black Friday goodbye and encourage others to do the same.

"As a member-owned co-op, our definition of success goes beyond money," Stritzke said in a press release. "We think that Black Friday has gotten out of hand and so we are choosing to invest in helping people get outside with loved ones this holiday season, over spending it in the aisles."

How PR professionals can learn from this
Managing brand reputation is more important - and profitable - than just extending a sale. Family is at the heart of many consumers, and a business that appeals to that more easily relates to the public - especially during the holidays. As REI knows best, this can positively impact a business' reputation and even contribute to customer loyalty in the long-run. In fact, article coverage for REI substantially spiked during Nov. 2015 - the initiation of #OptOutside - and has continued to gain traction in Nov. 2016 and 2017. Additionally, according to LexisNexis Newsdesk®, 56.2 percent of recent articles on the subject matter have been positive, proving that their decision to #OptOutside worked in their favor.

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