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5 of the Best Alternative Black Friday Campaigns

Alternative Black Friday campaigns are a great way to set your brand apart on social media.

With a growing awareness of consumerism and its environmental impact, brands need to get creative with their Black Friday campaign ideas.

And with a complete shift to digital this year, ‘tis the season to try something new.

In this blog post, we’re sharing 5 alternative Black Friday campaigns, and how you can draw inspiration from them for your 2020 holiday strategy.

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The Shift in Black Friday Campaigns

To call Black Friday one of the biggest shopping events of the year is an understatement — in 2019, consumers spent $7.4 billion online.

And while digital shopping has experienced huge growth in recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has expedited this even further, with many brick-and-mortar stores closing.

But even as some stores re-open, brands will have to adapt their Black Friday strategies to reflect the “new normal”.

Rather than the typical “One Day Only: 40% Off” Black Friday promotion, brands could take a more creative approach.

Whether it’s donating money to a local non-profit or extending the sale beyond a weekend, alternative Black Friday campaigns are a great way to set your brand apart, raise awareness, and potentially acquire new customers.

Ready to kickstart your holiday planning? Download our free campaign checklist to get organized and keep track of all your to-do’s!


Alternative Black Friday Campaigns #1: REI’s “Opt Outside”

Since 2015, REI has closed on Black Friday. Instead, their #OptOutside campaign encourages people to go outside and enjoy the fresh air.

According to REI, “The outdoors is where we get some air, find some quiet, and feel human again. And that’s more important today than ever.”

And while the campaign was initially created for Black Friday, the #OptOutside hashtag is used frequently on Instagram (over 16M posts!) creating a digital community of adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The takeaway?

REI has become associated with the #OptOutside hashtag, and the longevity of the campaign has cemented them as a go-to brand for outdoor apparel.

TIP: Create a branded hashtag for your campaign — you can use it to collect user-generated content for future posts and strengthen the sense of community around your brand.

Alternative Black Friday Campaigns #2: Deciem’s “Shop Slow”

For Black Friday in 2019, skincare company Deciem closed all its stores and blacked out its website: “We no longer feel comfortable being involved in a single day so heavily focused around hyper-consumerism.”

Instead, Deciem encouraged their community to “shop slow” — for the entire month of November, every product was on sale.

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See you tomorrow. ????

A post shared by The Ordinary, NIOD, & more. (@deciem) on

By extending their Black Friday promotion, Deciem was able to reward customers by removing the element of time pressure, and allowing their audience to shop more mindfully.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

Alternative Black Friday Campaigns #3: Patagonia’s Donation

Outdoor clothing company Patagonia (a Later user!) is known for their alternative Black Friday campaigns.

In 2011, their “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign raised awareness about consumerism and has been used in many marketing case studies.

But in 2016, Patagonia went bigger. They pledged to donate all of their Black Friday sales to grassroot organizations in local communities.

And it saw huge results — the campaign made $10 million in sales!

As former CEO Rose Marcario stated, “We expected to reach $2 million in sales. We beat that expectation five times over.”

Patagonia prides itself on its environmental mission, and consumers are drawn to brands with purpose.

Tying in a donation aspect to your Black Friday campaign allows your audience to feel good while they shop, and can turn new customers into lifelong advocates.

TIP: Educate your community during Black Friday using Later’s Linkin.bio feature. It can help drive clicks to information about the initiatives you support.


Alternative Black Friday Campaigns #4: Kotn’s “Flip The Switch”

Fashion brand Kotn is known for its quality essentials and ethically made products. And they do something differently during Black Friday.

Rather than go on sale, Kotn donates profits made between Black Friday and Cyber Monday to build primary schools in Egypt.

Why Egypt? Because it’s where the cotton for their products is grown.

Despite not offering any actual discounts, not going on sale isn’t necessarily an issue — 71% of millennials will pay more for a product if they know some of the proceeds go to charity.

The “Flip the Switch” campaign allows Kotn to differentiate themselves from other fashion brands and put the spotlight on a cause they support.

TIP: Black Friday doesn’t need to be all about driving sales, and can instead be used as an extension of supporting your brand’s values.

Alternative Black Friday Campaign Idea #5: MeUndies’ Virtual Event

Virtual events have increased in popularity this year, but in 2016 MeUndies held a two-hour Facebook Live event for Black Friday.

As more people joined, MeUndies unlocked more discounts and promotions.

And it was a success. With over 13,000 viewers, they converted at a rate of 25% — 13x MeUndies’ average conversion rate!

What makes this different from typical Black Friday campaigns?

It adds a layer of fun! Your community will love the exclusivity, and it can help them connect with each other.

Plus, with many brands shifting to the online space this year, hosting a creative virtual event can help set you apart.

TIP: Virtual events can bring your community together — whether it’s a Facebook Live or a private Zoom chat. Need help? Check out these virtual event ideas.

When you brainstorm Black Friday marketing strategies this year, let these campaigns inspire you!

Not only are alternative Black Friday campaigns fun, but they can help you give back to the community, raise brand awareness, or drive sales in a new and creative way.

Want to start planning content and organizing your feed? Get our free Instagram scheduling tool!

Written By

Monique Thomas

Monique is a Content Marketer at Later who loves helping brands define their voice and content strategy. You can usually find her sipping matcha or adding another book to her ever-growing TBR list. Say hi on Instagram — @wordsbymonique

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