Towards the end of "Black Friday"?
I don't know if you have noticed that news like me - which I think did not have the share of voice it would have deserved - but this year for the first time, a handful of iconic brands and companies have voluntarily refused to play the classic Black Friday game, in different ways though.
It is certainly not a phenomenon specific to luxury - besides the brands that I have in mind are not, to name but two, Target, juggernaut and symbol of over-consumption in the US and Aigle in France, a premium clothing brand - but I think it's so extremely symbolic and here to stay that I couldn't help but write about it.
Target, somehow pioneer in that field, announced a few weeks before this year's Thanksgiving that its stores would now be closed every year around this time - signaling the end of sometimes surreal (and creepy) scenes of people camping out in front of stores and fighting for one last display on sale.
Credit : ATILGAN OZDIL / ANADOLU AGENCY : GETTY
If we wanted to be cynical, we could see it as pure opportunism - or even realism. After all, given the new wave of contaminations and the measures taken to avoid crowd movements and gatherings, would they have been able to open anyway? It is also true that the distribution and retail giants have learned and pivoted a lot over the past 2 years. With the implementation, growth and adoption by consumers of e-commerce in general and of new services (curbside pick-up for example) was it still necessary to keep these stores open as has been the case in the past? A few other brands have since followed in the US with similar announcements, but always in a shy and discreet way - especially when you know their PR firepower. Had they wanted to make it big, they would have.
Walmart, for example, announced they would close their stores on Thanksgiving as a token of thanks for its employees, who were therefore able to travel and be with their loved ones that day.
When one knows that as of last year, online sales on Thanksgiving Day had already hit a record high with $ 5.1 billion according to Adobe Analytics, an increase of 21.5% vs. 2019. Was the risk that high when e-shops remained open? Was it truly driven by a long-term commitment or did the brand see a quick opportunistic press release, killing two birds with one stone? Long-term actions only will tell. This is why, for me, the most striking, meaningful and noticeable example in many ways this year is that of the one from the Aigle brand - both in form and substance. Clearly THE best practice to me, from which many brands will get inspiration from, I am sure. "Watch this space" as they say, because the movement has only just begun...
First of all, it is important to note that this is not the first time that Aigle has shown and demonstrated their commitment. Remember their post on gender parity within their teams - including their management committee - a while ago. A major step, which had not started the day before though. On all matters of corporate engagement, the regular statements of their CEO Sandrine Conseiller have been a major component of their credibility. Her tone, her way of expressing herself, combination of vulnerability and pragmatism, often hits the mark. Also, she has the courage to take this commitment beyond what could be perceived as mere opportunism.
"Beyond the manufacture of sustainable products, our direct impact, we are committed to participating in the evolution of consumer behavior, our indirect impact. This is the meaning of the 'Positive Friday' initiative as of our actions. 'RRRR: recycle, reuse, repair and reduce'. " -Sandrine Conseiller, CEO Aigle
Aigle could have chosen to close their stores BUT to keep their e-shop open, as some have done and as many will undoubtedly do. But no. The brand decided to close its e-shop as well - a courageous decision, no matter what (or unconscious? ... I sincerely hope that the future, the customers, the figures and the shareholders will prove it right ).
Credit : www.aigle.com
A decision accompanied by an honest, humble and committed statement. And at the same time, the opportunity for them to promote-second hand & resale via their platform launched a year before. Nothing is wasted, everything is recycled, including customers, you will say? Yes, there may be a bit of that, but at the same time, let's salute the courage of the brand and its management for setting an example in this way and arguably paving the way for more reasoned consumption. The end of black Friday? I reassure you, the big retailers have already found the solution. It's called "Cyber Monday" .... Who said cynical?