These days, many citizens are inundated with advertisements touting Black Friday discounts. Some brands also disagree with this movement of overconsumption, while offering price reductions. Can marketing campaigns really be eco-responsible?
The Spanish brand of shoes and boots Alohas warns its customers on its website and social networks: there are no sales of the “ Black Friday”, and especially not 90%. On the other hand, she is offering 40% off her latest collection. What is the difference ? The company indicates that production is made on demand, which combats waste, according to it.
The American clothing company Everlane, as part of its Black Friday Fund, donates one dollar per order to an organization that plants trees in Los Angeles.
For its part, IKEA claims to “go green” for the occasion by offering an enhanced store credit as part of its second-hand furniture resale program. Not to mention, as a bonus, the discount on vegetarian Swedish meatballs.
“There are a lot of ‘Green Friday’ type initiatives. We don’t tell consumers not to buy, we say: “We know you want discounts, but you’re doing this for a good cause”, indicates the director of the Responsible Consumption Observatory, Fabien Durif.
Valérie Védrines is a communications and marketing expert who has long piloted Black Friday campaigns. “About 90% of the work is done on the marketing side. All [le défi] is: how much are we going to be able to increase consumption during these times with our media campaigns? she says. I’ve been to places where Black Friday week could be 25% of the second half of the year [en volume de ventes]. »
According to her, many businesses feel compelled to participate in this frenzy, even if it is not always profitable due to low profit margins. “There is a big fear that if you don’t, customers will go to your competitors,” she reports.
At the same time, the level of social and environmental awareness of citizens is increasing. Companies are therefore seeking to reaffirm their values in the face of this mass of overconsumption, which pollutes and depletes the planet’s resources.
It is to pamper her clientele, gain visibility and help people in need that the designer owner of Marigold launched her Responsible Friday campaign, in opposition to Black Friday. Marilyne Baril is offering a 15% discount this week on all of its stocks, locally produced ready-to-wear clothing. And 15% of the profits will be donated to a community organization in the Laurentians that offers food aid, among other things.
“It doesn’t pay for me to do this, to lose 30% of profit in the middle of the high season”, specifies Mme Barrel, even if it is an opportunity to sell more products.
According to her, this small discount can convince hesitant customers to treat themselves to a piece they already wanted. She also wants to encourage them to reflect. “Fashion is always going to be there, and when you need a new piece of clothing for the office, you have the choice to go to Zara, and, if you have the budget, to go to a local and eco-responsible designer” , she points out.
Make Marketing Accountable
Valérie Védrines stopped working for Black Friday events because of their dissonance with her principles. “It was in opposition to my core values: you buy in bulk for the house, you pay attention to the impact of what you eat and, in parallel, you do a Black Friday campaign…” she says .
Mme Védrines founded the non-profit organization Masse critique this fall, whose objective is to “reduce the socio-environmental footprint of the communications industry in Quebec”. It already has more than 500 members, she says, including communications firms and retailers. They will come together to tackle several issues, including mass consumption days, which Mme Védrines qualifies as “infernal gear”.
The founder of the NPO wants to use the immense power of marketing to promote certain behaviors, in particular a more sober lifestyle. Because, according to her, the advertising campaigns that want to be virtuous pay into greenwashing from the moment the citizen is pushed to buy products that he does not need.
We should therefore rely instead on what many stakeholders call “demarketing”, that is to say, directly encourage a reduction in consumption, she says. “It takes courage, but some businesses should say: we don’t do Black Friday,” says Mme Vedrines.
The sharing economy
It is in this spirit that the Partage Club platform campaign has just been launched. This new Quebec application – paid – for sharing objects orders citizens not to buy a certain number of goods, such as a slow cooker, a blower or a baby exerciser. “Borrow them from your neighbours,” the poster reads instead.
Partage Club founder Fauve Doucet believes this second-hand economy has potential. Several businesses could, for example, offer the rental of objects, she said. Some sports equipment stores already do this with skis.
These days, Équiterre is also suggesting that people ignore Black Friday and sign up for Buy Nothing Day instead. The organization recalls that in this inflationary period, the best way to save, in a way, is not to buy.
To see in video