5 Best Black Friday Strategies for Sustainable Brands from 2021

Black Friday Sales may be up by over 30% overall, but Sustainable Brands need to strike a delicate balance between successful campaigns and being burned for hyper-consumerism. In this article we discuss 5 strategies that delivered success in 2021.
Sustainable Black Friday Strategies

Sustainable brands need to strike a fine balance with Black Friday Strategies in order to participate in one of the biggest revenue generating periods of the year.

According to Shopify data, globally Black Friday sales were up 23% on 2020 numbers. Here in Australia the sale event grew even more quickly, up a massive 34%!

In fact according to Australia Post, November 2021 is the biggest month on record for online sales. They delivered 21 million parcels through the month, with 800,000 just over the Black Friday weekend. That’s up 13% on 202 and an almost incredible 76 percent on 2019.

It’s seems the juggernaut sales event continues to gain momentum! That’s especially true in Australia where the concept was late to gain traction compared to the US and UK (where its originator Amazon is more entrenched).

But, just because the industry as a whole enjoyed growth, doesn’t mean that every campaign was successful. Smaller brands and start ups need to keep a close eye on what’s working elsewhere and creatively imitate those successes.

With that in mind, lets review the best performing Black Friday strategies for sustainable brands from 2021.

Running Deals for the Whole Black Friday Week

According to Ben Franzi, General Manager of parcels & express services at Australia post, one of the main drivers for growth this November was the broad trend towards brands starting BFCM early.  As discussed in an earlier article, running your deals for the whole week can be an effective way to get ahead of the competition. 

Getting involved with the buzz by extending the sales period seems to be a growing trend among sustainable brands wanting to distance themselves from negative feedback around hyper-consumerism.  The purpose is to give consumers longer to make rational decisions about what they want to purchase.

The problem of course, is that much of the hype and corresponding revenue success around the event is due to its ‘frenzy’ nature, where brands are hoping to grab impulse purchases. 

Nevertheless, among the businesses we work with at Sustainable eCommerce, starting the sales event early was clearly major success factor. In fact, 40-60% of the sales from our client’s campaigns occurred before Black Friday! 

Indeed, there are early signs that Black Friday may be morphing into some form of ‘Black November’.  Sustainability-focused cosmetics brand Deceim chose to run ‘Slowvember’, with 23% discounts across their store for the whole month.


Cart Upsell Offers Worked Better Than Exclusive Bundles

In the past we’ve seen some great success in running specially designed bundles for Black Friday & Cyber Monday. Playing with exclusivity as well as discounts has worked well in the past.

Not so this year. 

Bundling is primarily a strategy to increase AOV on your store (one of the cornerstone metrics for ecommerce).  In this regard, we saw that offering tiered discounts to encourage higher cart values were much more effective this year.  This was especially true when higher cart values triggered free shipping or shipping discounts.  Bad shipping experience is almost universally a pain point for online shoppers compared to in-store, so finding ways to reduce shipping fees proved a winner.

Offering Discounted Expedited Shipping

No doubt everyone in the industry has experienced pain this year with delayed shipments as well as the rising costs of shipping.  Consumers have been experiencing the same.  This year more than any other, concerns about whether they will receive their parcel on time are front of mind.

Accordingly, one of the most successful campaign strategies in 2021 was offering free or discounted express shipping.   For a consumer, this is an appealing offer. They get peace of mind in receiving their parcels earlier, and still save money doing it.  It's also great for the brand.  It doesn’t impact your Gross Margin in the same way direct product discounts would.  In shifting the discount from your product to the delivery service, you’re also not degrading the perceived value of your product.

This is a big deal right now! Do not wait until next Black Friday to leverage this strategy.

While Australia Post have taken considerable steps towards resolving the delivery issues we experienced as recently as Father’s Day, logistical issues continue to play havoc with the network.  With approximately 1 week left in active Christmas sales for 2021, leveraging discounted express shipping now is a great way to improve store conversion as well as ensure your products get into customer hands in time for the main event!

Naturally, we need to look further here in order to include this in our playbook of Black Friday strategies for sustainable brands. Expedited shipping is usually less environmentally friendly than standard shipping.  

Think carefully how to can deploy express options without blowing out your carbon budget.  Purchasing offsets is a simple strategy to enable faster shipping while staying consistent with sustainability messaging. If you want to purchase offsets directly, you can work with a carbon offsetting service like Greenfleet.   

You also might consider switching up the way you handle shipping.  Leveraging a service that already offsets shipping-related carbon like  Sendle) is probably the most straightforward approach.

Offer Sustainability Incentives

For sustainable brands, being seen to promote discounts to encourage impulse purchases can present a challenge.

Understandably, there’s a growing counter-movement to Black Friday in the ethical / sustainable world.  Many sustainable brands (for example  sustainable knitwear brand Mia Fratino) are choosing not to participate at all, showing their support for responsible purchasing, and perhaps protecting their brand from negative sentiment around hyper-consumerism.

We get it. 

But sustainability as a business is more than just the materials you use. Your bottom line needs to be sustainable too! Plus, as ecocult points out, the week can be a really great opportunity for income-constrained people to purchase a few sustainable products at more accessible price points.

Instead of just offering discounts, one option is to prick consumers conscience by dedicating some amount of profit to environmental charities. For example, sustainable footwear brand all birds actually raised prices for Black Friday, stating that all proceeds would be matched by the company and donated to climate related causes.

Sustainable clothing brand Made Trade went one step further, creating a Black Friday Sustainability Fund, where 10% of every order was donated to an urban orchards initiative.  A similar incentive was offered by zero-waste clothing brand, who promoted a simple 20% discount, but all sales backed by a 15% donation of revenue to grass roots ethical causes.   

Patagonia is also famous for donating 100% of all sales on Black Friday to environmental change charities.  Smaller brands likely don’t have bandwidth to make such sweeping commitments.

Working on the same lines as the brand above, you could consider becoming a member of the 1% for the Planet movement and highlighting that in your Black Friday promotions.

The Green Friday Movement

In an interesting development, former founder of Click Frenzy, Peter Krideras is changing the landscape again this year, bringing a new spin on Black Friday.  His initiative Green Friday launched (somewhat quietly) this year, with a few select brands including sustainable cosmetics brand Boody, & Flora & Fauna. 

The event is designed to support Australian consumers who want deals, but prefer to support sustainable and ethical brands.  If Clickfrenzy is something you’ve seen success with in the past, Green Friday is going to be something to consider for 2022!  Head over there and sign up for updates!