Outdoor retailer REI announced a few weeks ago that it would close all of its stores on ‘black Friday,’ one of the busiest shopping days of the year. While some have questioned the lost sales that will result, I believe the move was brilliant for the brand. The announcement and accompanying advertisements (and the #optoutside hashtag) worked well because they bucked the trend of opening earlier and earlier for holiday shopping and demonstrated the company’s values (to the outside and to its employees). The notion also generated tons of media and social media coverage. The closing further differentiates REI from its competitors, and reminds shoppers that retail can be about more than just deals, but also about trust and loyalty and employees and values.

Lesson: Don’t be afraid of going against the grain. REI received huge publicity for its move. And I bet the brand loyalty they are building with it are immense.

In addition, REI used the opportunity to create a new slogan – OPT OUTSIDE – and filed with the USPTO to protect it in October. REI’s campaign demonstrated how being a contrarian can be good for your brand and good for business


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