The Brands That Said "No Thanks" to Black Friday

REISE Replay: Black Friday is the busiest and most profitable day of the year for most retailers, but these brands stepped up to challenge consumer culture, each in their own way.
4 Minutes
Kathlyn D'Souza
December 2, 2022

The times, they are a-changin'. Particularly where overconsumption, unsustainable shopping, and buying more than what you need or want are concerned.

People are looking for a change – in fact, they are hungry for it – and they’re looking for (and looking to) purpose-driven brands that can help them with this.

According to the numbers from a global report carried out by Wunderman Thompson, it showed that:

- 75% say that business responses to COVID have raised their expectations of them when it comes to helping fight some of the world’s biggest problems – like climate change

- 86% of people expect businesses to play their part in solving big challenges like climate change or social justice

- 85% of people agree that people must be prepared to rethink the way they live and spend to tackle climate change

- 70% of people are prepared to make dramatic changes to their lifestyle if it will help tackle climate change

So how does this fall in line with the annual and unofficial holiday on the fourth Friday (or fifth) in November? Well, nothing else describes it as accurately as the picture below:


Black Friday is a celebration of consumerism, fuelled by deep discounts and promises of excess – essentially the antithesis of the term “waste not, want not”.

After all, more reports from last year’s Black Friday sales showed that:

It would release the carbon equivalent of 215 flights between London and Sydney (390,000 tonnes of carbon).

80% of electronics and clothing (the most popular Black Friday purchases) as well as the packaging, end up in landfill, incineration, or low-quality recycling – according to the Green Alliance report.

The data may disappoint, but it never lies. It just shows that overconsumption stymies efforts to avoid climate change and that we are not doing it fast enough.

That being said, a little progress is still progress. Younger consumers and businesses are pushing back against it, with the earliest movement starting over 10 years ago in 2011 when outdoor clothing and gear company Patagonia bought a full-page ad in The New York Times:

Credit: Patagonia

Another outdoor clothing brand REI followed suit with the #OptOutside campaign in 2015 (keep this in mind, by the way), which encouraged everyone to spend their time elsewhere, instead of fighting other frenzied shoppers at the mall.

So, just as ripples spread out across the water, these movements have sparked an ongoing movement and trickled down to these brands:

(Bear in mind that these are just a few examples and not an all-encompassing list of those involved in the anti-Black Friday movement)

Discounts for The Ordinary products are equal across the board for the entire month of November (they call this campaign Slowvember), so shoppers won’t feel rushed and can make better purchasing decisions.

The H&M-owned clothing brand bid goodbye to Black Friday in 2019 (“Black Fri-Nay”, they said), and continued to do so this year.

The Black Friday tab on Fjallraven’s official welcomed visitors with the text: “Black Friday? Let’s call it ‘Long Term Investment Friday’ instead” – making it the perfect segue into highlighting how sustainable and lasting their products are. They even used pictures of customers who have 30-year-old jackets and bags for this campaign!

IKEA announced that they would not be participating in this year’s Black Friday, but encouraged more sustainable shopping and pushed forward with their Green Friday campaign. During the Green Friday period, customers got 50% off new items after returning used IKEA furniture, no matter the age.

Instead of celebrating Black Friday, Google turned the day into #BlackOwnedFriday, where they highlighted small and upcoming Black-owned businesses featured throughout a specially made interactive film.

Though LUSH has gone off the grid across all social media platforms, they partnered with conservation charity Sumatran Orangutan Society to release 14,600 Orangutan Soaps (a reflection of the number of orangutans remaining in the wild in Sumatra) in 2017.

Following that, they have since celebrated Black Friday in their own way – by making it more ethical, bubblier, and greener by launching new vegan bath bombs. Still, their social media platforms reminded consumers to #BeSomewhereElse, similar to REI’s #OptOutside call to action.

Your brand or business (potentially)
We may have a long way to go in the journey to fighting climate change, but anytime is as good as now to make changes – no matter how small they may be. What’s more, you don’t even have to wait for the Black Friday season to make a move.

As consumers, we can choose to repair existing goods, shop second-hand, or even purchase more from sustainable brands when and if necessary.

However, for businesses or brand owners looking to make a change to become more purpose-driven instead of sticking to business-as-usual approaches, you now have the opportunity to reshape the way consumers live, learn, and work.

Your business can be transformed for the better through leadership and advocacy for a sustainable future, and you can start doing the work today. Let us not remain talking shops (pun intended).

At REISE, all of our awareness activities aim to create brand love for our partners through topics such as responsible consumption. Curious to know more about how you can do this for your brand? Schedule a chat with us today!