REI announced this year that its 143 stores would be closed for Black Friday, and the company would pay their employees to spend the day outside. CEO Jerry Stritzke encouraged shoppers to avoid shopping centers for the outdoors as well, with the statement “For 76 years, our co-op has been dedicated to one thing and one thing only: a life outdoors. We believe that being outside makes our lives better. And Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of this essential truth.” However, REI is not forgoing publicity for that day. It has created a hashtag #optoutside for people to share their outdoorsy plans for the day after Thanksgiving.
This is the second consecutive year an outdoor apparel company is going against the grain to be top of mind on the popular shopping holiday. Last year, Patagonia ran a full-page ad in the New York Times with a picture of a jacket and the caption “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” Below the image and in fine print, the brand discusses the environmental hazards of excessive consumptions and asks consumers to be mindful of what they buy. On Cyber Monday, Patagonia sent the ad in email format to subscribers.
So far, REI’s campaign seems to be yielding good results. The hashtag has already instigated a stream of positive mentions.
This innovative campaign REI’s knowledge of its consumers, which permeates in all of REI’s digital assets as evidenced in L2’s 2015 Digital IQ Index: Sportswear. Just one example: REI has one of the fastest checkout capabilities among brands in L2’s Sportswear Index, and is one of the few to offer in-store inventory visibility online and ship-to-store.
For more on the digital performance of 59 Sportswear brands in the U.S., download a copy of L2’s 2015 Sportswear study.