Anti-Consumerism – The Next Trend in Retail?

Anti-Consumerism – The Next Trend in Retail? Anti-Consumerism – The Next Trend in Retail? Anti-Consumerism – The Next Trend in Retail? Anti-Consumerism – The Next Trend in Retail? Anti-Consumerism – The Next Trend in Retail?
by Eunjin Koh
It is a busy time for retailers as Thanksgiving is approaching just around the corner. Apart from spending time with your family around the dinner table, this holiday has another tradition: mass-discount shopping. First it started with Black Friday shopping where consumers would head to stores right after Thanksgiving dinner. Then, as online shopping became more established, Cyber Monday happened. Whether it’s Black Friday or Cyber Monday, the general idea is that on Thanksgiving, we shop. However, on the last week of October, REI announced they wouldn’t participate in Black Friday through the #optOutside campaign. REI is opting out of the holiday shopping tradition so their employees and customers can spend their holidays outdoors – not fighting each other for the best deals in stores. So is anti-consumerism the next big trend? In this BAView, I will examine the trends in retail and see how REI has positioned itself as a successful brand to forgo sales on Thanksgiving.

The first most obvious transition in the retail space is from Brick-and-Mortar to “.com” stores. Although Brick-and-Mortar brands are generally more established than their online counterparts, the Brick-and-Mortar spaces have been losing their edge - what we call “Energized Differentiation” - over the years. At BAV, Energized Differentiation is linked to a brand’s momentum for future growth; therefore, a slip in this brand metric is a big red warning sign for the brand to do something new and different to keep up to date. While traditional storefronts are losing momentum, we see that  “.com” brands are increasing their Relevance, Esteem and Knowledge.



Furthermore, since 2010, there has been a steady increase in the number of people who make purchases from the online version of the brick-and-mortar stores further supporting the transition to the “.com” space as something all retailers should pay attention to.


REI is choosing an innovative path to differentiate its brick-and-mortar stores: closing them on Black Friday. The reason behind REI’s nonparticipation in the holiday sales event is because it wants to go back the roots of its brand mission – to inspire and educate the public on the great outdoors and promote environmental stewardship. Basically, REI wants consumers to spend a meaningful Thanksgiving being outdoors, making memories with loved ones instead of being cooped up in a giant shopping center. BAV data reveals that this could be the latest in a series of strong decisions the brand has made – this relatively smaller brand has been increasing across all four pillars of Differentiation, Knowledge, Relevance and Esteem – for the last 3 years.


Taking a stand on Thanksgiving could be yet another step on the path to growing into a leading retail brand – both online and in stores.REI is not the first brand to discourage consumers from shopping. Other brands like Patagonia also embrace the “anti-consumerism” idea and focuses on their brand mission instead of pure sales. For example, in 2011 Patagonia had its “Don’t buy this jacket” campaign to stop consumers from excess buying that can have detrimental effects to the environment. In fact, more and more people believe they worry about global warming and are willing to pay more for products that are green.

Patagonia 5

Clearly, Patagonia and REI brand themselves as meaningful, environmentally-friendly brands and both are continuing to grow into meaningful, differentiated leaders.

Patagonia 4

Our data shows that brands like Patagonia and REI are capitalizing on the ani-consumerism trend by prioritizing their brand missions and the environment over sales. As more consumers care about finding meaning in the brands they use, “anti-consumerism” may be the next big trend in retail.


All Content © 2017 BrandAsset Consulting

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