Owning the outdoors – How REI’s brand was redefined by closing on Black Friday

Owning the outdoors – How REI’s brand was redefined by closing on Black Friday

REI’s decision to close on Black Friday this year was a revolutionary and actually anti-retail idea – don’t go shopping the day after Thanksgiving on Black Friday: go outdoors, do something with your friends and family. This move was so dramatic the CEO wasn’t quite sure about it at first. But think about it. What is REI’s brand all about? What do they stand for that actually has meaning for the customer.

REI’s brand promise is about what you the customer do, what you experience through their products, not about what they sell

It’s almost too simple to say they want you to go outside. But think about it, when you are in the world of engagement – skiing, hiking, biking, kayaking and more – you are the REI brand. To tell customers to have fun and get out there is like fulfilling the ultimate reason REI actually sells anything. Their brand promise is about what you do, what you experience while using their products, not about what they sell. So when 1.4 million folks went out there and used the hashtag – #optoutside they stated a commitment to “their” brand values.

When brands become the values they tout they become the values of their customer. This is what differentiates brands over competitors, over price, over product quality – it’s about who you are. Now, staking out this turf is what long-lived brands must do to survive and keep customers connected to them.