Over the entire decade that I ran The Fashion Advocate as an online store before rebranding it and relaunching as a digital community and online mentoring platform for ethical, sustainable, circular and slow fashion brands, I didn't do Black Friday sales, not even once. I also didn't do Boxing Day sales, seasonal sales, random and rushed 30% off sales or EOFY (end of financial year) sales.
I had established The Fashion Advocate's slow fashion mission from the get-go, and it was all about changing the industry for the better, not going with the status quo because it was easier, so sales just weren't a part of what we did.
Black Friday sales are like junk food. They fill a temporary void, they're a quick fix, and they don't establish healthy habits in the long term - for you or your customers - and they can be really damaging for your brand.
If you're running an ethical, sustainable, circular or slow fashion brand, know that you do not have to go on sale, and you definitely don't have to run a Black Friday sale to compete. If what you make is good quality, worth it, sustainable and long-lasting, and you have a good strategy to sell it, going on sale doesn't have to be part of your plan, and here's why...
1. Sales undermine your sustainable values.
Black Friday is notorious for encouraging overconsumption and impulse buying. It contradicts the principles of sustainability by promoting excessive consumption and fast fashion, which is exactly what you're trying to move away from.
2. Sales devaluate your products.
Constant sales can lead customers to perceive your products as overpriced during full-priced times. When you start running regular sales, you train your customers to wait for those sales, and they come to expect a discount, which undermines the value of your sustainable brand.
3. Your 'quality over quantity' message gets lost.
Discount-driven events like Black Friday shift the focus from the quality of your products to their price, which dilutes the message you're trying to convey about the value of ethical and sustainable choices.
4. You contribute to the environmental impact of overproduction.
Black Friday encourages customers to buy as much as they can as cheaply as they can, which results in overproduction, contributing to the environmental issues associated with excess manufacturing, wasted resources, and increased carbon footprints. This totally contradicts the core principles of sustainable fashion.
5. Black Friday encourages impulse buying.
I'm sure you've done it yourself; added something to the cart that you don't actually need but the Black Friday offer is too good to refuse, and this is the psychology we have to avoid. Sale events like Black Friday trigger impulse buying behaviour based on price and customers end up purchasing items they don't truly need, leading to increased returns and, consequently, more environmental waste.
6. Sales erode your brand exclusivity.
You've worked hard to establish your ethical and sustainable principles, which means there's a sense of exclusivity with your unique and thoughtful design process. If you run frequent sales, you run the risk of eroding this exclusivity, making your brand seem cheap, less special or 'just like the rest'.
7. Sales decrease your profit margin.
Constant discounts impact your profit margins, which are crucial for the growth and sustainability of your fashion business. You need to operate with healthy margins and a healthy bottom line, but if you're running constant sales, it'll hinder your ability to re-invest back into your business, afford sustainable materials for your next range, and pay yourself an ethical wage. Healthy profits are essential.
So, instead of falling into the fast fashion trap of running a Black Friday sale this year, focus on an alternative strategy like your own 'green Friday' where you donate a little extra with every sale over the Black Friday weekend. Or, you could design an exclusive limited edition piece and only make it available once a year over the Black Friday period, and make it full price, but limited in its availability. You could plant two trees for every sale instead of one, or find a new charity and donate 10% of sales over the Black Friday weekend. There are countless ideas you could come up with to piggyback on the marketing hype of Black Friday without devaluing and cheapening your brand, and you can have a positive impact in the process.
Stay true to your values and foster a community that appreciates the true worth of your sustainable fashion - and don't run a sale this Black Friday weekend.
If you can't come up with a good idea, inbox me on Instagram and I'll give you one!