It’s safe to say we’ve all heard about Black Friday. This year the designated day of frenzied shopping officially falls on Friday 26th November (although projected supply shortages mean some brands announced their sales a whole month early).
For many people, Black Friday is a chance to grab great deals and find desirable holiday gifts at a reduced price. But not everyone views this day of spending excess with the same positivity.
There are doubts as to whether the deals are actually as good as they seem. And there’s a growing anti-Black Friday movement – called Green Friday – that has been stirring over the past few years.
So what is Green Friday? And is it more in line with your CPG’s values than the Black Friday tradition? Let’s take a look.
What is Green Friday?
Green Friday is an alternative to Black Friday. Environmental activists use the day to highlight the environmental impact of shopping and consumerism.
No-one is sure where the idea for Green Friday originated, although some sources think it may have started life in Canada back in 1992 as Buy Nothing Day.
Whereas Black Friday promotions encourage us to spend, spend, spend without thought for the bigger environmental picture, Green Friday promotions are all about shopping sustainably – or not at all.
We predict that with concern about the environment rising ever further up the agenda, Green Friday is going to see another boost in popularity and prominence in 2021.
What are shoppers encouraged to do on Green Friday?
On Green Friday, shoppers aren’t encouraged to hit the sales in search of a bargain. Instead, Green Friday tries to inspire the following:
The desire to buy something new sometimes gets the better of logic. This leads us to purchase stuff we don’t really need – using up the planet’s valuable resources in the process.
On Green Friday, shoppers are encouraged to think more mindfully about their shopping behavior by avoiding impulse purchases and questioning what they really want and need.
Buying locally made or locally sold products is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. That’s why Green Friday shoppers are encouraged to shop local instead of buying from big corporations.
Another Green Friday principle? Buy pre-loved rather than new items. Shoppers give a new lease of life to something old, whilst saving the resources and reducing the emissions it would take to create something new.
Taking part in the circular economy
It isn’t just about buying. On Green Friday, people can choose to borrow. There are now plenty of online marketplaces allowing people to swap or share items they already own.
Making do and mending
Every time we throw something away, we waste the resources used to create it.
That’s why Green Friday puts a focus on mending products that shoppers already own – encouraging people to preserve what they have rather than sending it to landfill.
Buying sustainable products
This is where CPG brands can use Green Friday to take center stage.
When shoppers have to buy something on Green Friday, they’re encouraged to put sustainability at the heart of their purchasing decisions.
That means buying from brands that demonstrate concern for recyclability, waste reduction, and an ethical and sustainable supply chain.
If you’ve already incorporated these principles into your brand, Green Friday could be your time to shine.
So what can brands do to promote Green Friday?
Promoting your brand on a day of anti-consumerism is not without its pitfalls. But approach Green Friday authentically – with the environment as a priority – and you stand to gain the attention and loyalty of shoppers.
Want some Green Friday inspiration? Here are a few brands who showed their commitment to sustainability and managed to boost their profile with a Green Friday promotion.
Swedish outdoor brand Haglöfs traditionally boycotts Black Friday. In 2020 it shut all but one of its stores and stopped selling from its website too. From its Stockholm store, customers could only buy second-hand goods – items from old collections that had been restored.
For two years running now, Grown has removed all clothing from its online store on Green Friday. In place of the usual products, Grown chose to sell only trees.
LUSH – the sustainable cosmetics brand – launched a new range of packaging-free bubble bar products on Green Friday last year.
Luxury fashion brand, Anya Hindmarch, donated all of its Black Friday weekend profits in 2020 to an environmental charity.
LivBar is an Oregon based CPG making organic nutrition bars. This Green Friday, the brand has pledged to offset all of their own carbon emissions and use a proportion of profits to plant trees.
This British clothing brand closed its stores on Green Friday and invited shoppers to its sewing lab. Visitors could get any clothing item – from any brand – fixed for free by the in-house team.
Is Green Friday a good move for your CPG brand?
At the moment, both Green Friday and Black Friday catch the attention of shoppers. So how do you decide which is the better fit for your CPG brand?
Here are a couple of considerations CPGs should take into account when deciding whether to promote Green Friday.
Who is your main target audience?
If your target market is made up of Millennials or Gen Z then a Green Friday promotion seems like a savvy move. These generational groups are all about sustainable brands with a mission.
But don’t simply pay lip service to sustainability. Customers belonging to these groups will scrutinize your green claims – failing to match action with words could lead you to lose loyal customers.
Which event aligns best with your values?
Black Friday gets a heckuva lot of people excited about spending their hard-earned cash. For some, the prospect of a bargain is just too hard to resist.
It may be that your brand and its values are better aligned with Black Friday spenders than with Green Friday abstainers. If this is the case, don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole.
As mentioned above, you need to build sustainability into the foundations of your brand if you’re to convince climate-aware customers. You can’t simply tag sustainability claims onto a product as an afterthought.
The values you demonstrate on Green Friday have to be core values for your brand throughout the rest of the year too, otherwise your promotion will be seen as a marketing tactic rather than an example of social corporate responsibility.
Put simply – it just won’t work.
Do you rely on Black Friday sales?
Not everyone can ignore Black Friday. For some brands, sales made during that late November weekend are crucial to the survival of their business.
Nevertheless, customers of all generations are increasingly thinking about sustainability when they make a purchase. Brands have to adapt if they’re to protect the planet and enjoy longer term business success.
If you’re not ready for a Green Friday promotion this year, look ahead and think about how you can position your brand for 2022 and beyond. Think more sustainably and customers will reward you for it in the years to come.
Buffalo Market is a leading distributor of purpose-driven food and beverage brands. We also love to share the latest advice and insights from the CPG world. Check out the Buffalo Market blog to read our latest articles.