Close your stores on one of the biggest shopping days of the year? That's what REI has done on Black Friday, and it has people talking. Their #Optoutside campaign is definitely not consistent with our over consumerism in America, and here's why I think it will be a big win for the company.
Doing something counter-culture creates buzz. Obviously they've gotten a lot of publicity for doing something unexpected, and what some people think would be crazy because of the perceived negative results to the bottom line. We all know job #1 of marketing is to make sure people are talking about you.
Values before dollars. REI is an outdoors store, and promoting going outside vs spending the day in shopping malls is consistent with what they're trying to do. Remember, as Mr. Sinek would say, people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Any time you do something that holds to your values, even if at face value it appears to be counter productive to benefiting the business, will ultimately lead to the benefit of the company anyway. Values before dollars, and the dollars will come as a result, and to a higher level than if you were to compromise on those values. Consumers are too smart and savvy; if you compromise once, you'll lose credibility and you may not be given the chance to make it back up.
Online shopping keeps the sales coming in. Thanks to our wonderful technology, they'll still rake in the sales as a huge percentage of people do their shopping online anyway. After all, why go out in public and risk a fist fight with the crazy guy trying to save $100 on a tv when you can do all your shopping online in your kitchen while drinking your morning coffee?
I predict a big spike for REI. They won't lose many, if any, sales on Black Friday since their site is still up and taking sales, and the publicity and values statements they made will just create more sales and more faithful customers. Good work REI!