These unusual Black Friday email campaigns asked their subscribers to buy less, not more.

Steep discounts, deals that only last a few days, promotions that require you to take action quickly: For many retailers, the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend is one of the most crucial sales periods of the year, and they utilize all tricks in a retailers’ toolkit to encourage consumers to kick-off their holiday purchases.

But there’s a growing number of critical voices that see the Black Friday weekend as the pinacle of hyper consumerism — a time where we buy things we didn’t actually need, with a significant impact on the environment. It seems like in 2020, more brands than ever decided to skip the Black Friday deal galore and instead used the opportunity to shine the light on sustainable and mindful purchasing. Here are four campaigns we loved.

Deals and discounts vs. sustainability and mindfulness. Here’s four Black Friday campaigns that asked their subscribers to buy less, not more.
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Rapha encourages their community to swap the shops for the drops

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Rather than offering subscribers discounts to shop on Black Friday, Bicycle clothing retailer Rapha invited their community to hop on their bikes and join Rapha’s Black Friday Ride. The email featured an engaging animated GIF with beautiful custom illustrations — a great way to catch the readers’ attention for a good cause: Riding a million kilometers to fund donations of a thousand bikes for people who need them the most.

With this beautiful email, Rapha strengthens its community of riders and at the same time puts their support of the World Bicycle Relief in the spotlight — a powerful way to build brand trust with their subscribers.

BAUKJEN donates all Black Friday weekend profits to charity

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Fashion retailer BAUKJEN is known for their focus on sustainability and the ethical production of their products, so it’s no surprise that their 2020 Black Friday email isn’t simply about deals and discounts either.

For four days over Black Friday weekend, BAUKEN donated all profits to four charities close to their hearts. This Black Friday email relies heavily on typography and copy to promote their cause, but the editorial-style works well for this campaign that’s designed to introduce the charities and to put their work in the spotlight.

Patagonia encourages shoppers to buy less, and demand more

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Patagonia cleverly twisted their Black Friday marketing to encourage consumers to start holding brands accountable for what they produce and how they produce it. Their messaging is simple but powerful: Buy less, reuse your clothes where you can, and demand more from the ethical standards of the companies producing the garments. Instead of encouraging customers to buy more they ask them to do the opposite — stop unnecessarily buying items they don’t need.

This powerful email is more than just a message; it is a story, a movement and one that the reader can join. The copy is the main focus, and they put the reader at the forefront of this, using messaging such as “you have the power to change this” and “what you buy is what the industry will become”. This encourages the reader to question themselves and their purchasing decisions, and possibly rethinking their spending on Black Friday beyond Patagonia.

Beauty brand DECIEM hits pause on Black Friday


Beauty brand DECIEM shut down Black Friday, literally, in a bid to stop mass and unneeded purchasing over the Black Friday weekend. Their slow shopping initiative resulted in DECIEM pausing all purchasing activity on their website and they closed all their physical stores. 

For a company which prides itself on being cruelty free and environmentally conscious, it is no surprise they shut down their stores to help limit purchasing activity and shopping anxiety. The email features an attention grabbing GIF in the header and then follows a letter style structure. You can see the personal touches added such as the heart emoji used to sign off the email. 

Unlike the brands listed above, DECIEM did hold a black Friday offer, but instead of offering it for one weekend only, they gave customers 23% for the whole of November, giving  shoppers the time to really research what they needed, without worrying that items would sell out—and to encourage mindful shopping over impulse purchases. 

Do you have more examples? We’d love to see them.

Did you spot any Black Friday emails with a focus on sustainability over deals and discounts? Share them with us on Twitter or send us an email — we’d love  to see them and add them to this post. 

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