Gone are the days of waking up at 5:00 am to be the first in line at the mall the day after Thanksgiving. Over the years, Black Friday has become more of a season than just one day, with brands toting deals weeks before and weeks after the actual Friday. This increase in popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday has taken a toll on the environment.
That’s why this year, we’re making the change to Green Friday.
The environmental impact of Black Friday
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are some of the most polluting shopping days of the year. During Black Friday 2020, consumers spent $9 billion online shopping, up 21.6% year over year, making last year’s event the most polluting ever. Having been adopted globally, Black Friday’s carbon footprint has grown accordingly. In the UK alone, Black Friday 2020 emitted 429,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions—that’s the equivalent of 435 return flights from London to New York.
The heavy environmental toll of Black Friday also stems from the products themselves. Many products sought after during Black Friday and Cyber Monday are used for just a season or two and then discarded. Smartphones, TVs, and laptops are some of the most sought-after deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and many of those purchases filter into the fastest growing waste stream on the planet: electronic waste, or e-waste for short. In fact, up to 80% of our Black Friday purchases are simply thrown away after just one or even zero uses.
Traditional sales don’t cut it anymore
Last year, some 64% of consumers said they are less inclined to shop on Black Friday than they were a few years ago. Nearly 60% said they had also lost interest in shopping on Cyber Monday. Those numbers have risen from 55% and 47%, respectively, from the previous year.
Black Friday has become a season more than a single day of shopping. Many brands run promotions for weeks at a time, taking away the urge consumers have to shop on that specific day. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated this change, confirming the lack of desire for doorbusters and shopping in person.
Customers are numb to these sales tactics because they see the deals so frequently and for so long. They no longer feel the pressure to do all their shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but most brands respond to this with even more “one more day!” and “20% off extended!” sales.
These “last chance” sales lack any punch as consumers are wise to the brand’s sales and discount schemes.
Having big sales often can even degrade the value of your brand. Research has shown deep discounts cause consumers to believe that something is wrong. Frequent discounting serves to lower the perceived value of the brand because of an almost subconscious reaction that quality also has been lowered. Or, in a “value rebound,” consumers begin to perceive the everyday price as a reason to postpone the purchase. The brand is then bought only when on sale, setting a bad precedent. Sales can also show a lack of confidence in your own brand as if telling your customers you don’t believe in your products enough to sell them at full price.
Why brands should go green for Black Friday
In addition to the environmental reasons that benefit the planet, brands should implement a Green Friday campaign as opposed to traditional Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Green Friday is a great alternative with no downside. Helping out the planet and standing out from the crowd? Wins all around. Consumers care about how their shopping impacts the environment. One study revealed that 70% of consumers in the U.S. and Canada think it is important that a brand is sustainable or eco-friendly. Furthermore, 69% of environmentally-conscious buyers willingly pay a premium for recycled products, and more than half of these buyers are ready to change their shopping habits to reduce the negative impact on the environment. Moving away from traditional sales and focusing on sustainability sales will educate consumers and do good for the environment.
Green Friday is the idea of providing impact-focused promotions rather than discounted sales this Black Friday and Cyber Monday. EcoCart can help with this by providing your brand with the ability to offset the carbon footprint of each of your orders this coming Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We can do this by measuring the carbon footprint of manufacturing and shipping your orders and then donating a proportionate amount to carbon offsetting projects that help reduce carbon in the environment.
Brands and consumers are catching on to the negative connotations of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Some brands have even gone as far as boycotting Black Friday for its environmental impact. Among them, Allbirds, known for its end-to-end sustainable footwear, actually raised their prices by $1 last year rather than have a sale.
Traditional sales cause a loss of at least 10% on each order, while a sustainability sale will only run you 1-2% on each order, making it a smart financial decision (and environmental decision, but you already knew that). With traditional sales, many times you’ll see 1-time customers. A sustainability sale will help increase customer loyalty by keeping your customers coming back knowing they are shopping sustainably with your brand. In fact, 15% of users who checkout with EcoCart return to make another carbon neutral order within 30 days. Like we said, having frequent sales lowers the perceived value of your products, but sustainability sales actually increase the perceived value of your products as customers value the product and the environmental impact they are having.
While boycotting or raising prices certainly makes a statement, it doesn’t actually mitigate the environmental impact of your brand. Participating in Green Friday shows your brand cares about the planet and is willing to do something about it, boosting your brand value. Green Friday promotes intentional spending rather than the frenzied buy-buy-buy mindset that usually accompanies Black Friday sales.
How to execute a sustainability sale
Executing a sustainability sale for Green Friday would look something like this:
1. Measure your carbon footprint
First, you need to measure your carbon footprint in order to get an idea of your environmental impact. EcoCart can help you easily determine your carbon footprint by using our proprietary algorithm that considers variables like package size, weight, and distance shipped to determine the carbon footprint any given order emits.
Once you have your carbon footprint in hand, it’s time to determine what to do about it! With EcoCart you can offer carbon neutral orders to your customers. Meaning the carbon footprint of each order will be calculated, then offset by donating to rigorously vetted, third-party verified carbon offsetting projects.
2. Choose a project that aligns with your brand
We recommend selecting a carbon offsetting project that works to actively reduce the amount of carbon in the air. This gives you the ability to offset whatever carbon you’re producing by funding projects that protect forests, build wind farms, or provide water purification.
With so many project options, we recommend picking one that aligns with your brand. For example, food brand Siete selected the El Ejido Forest Protection project in Puebla, Mexico. This region of Mexico was very important to the Siete team and EcoCart was able to work with our network of project brokers and sponsors to source and vet a project that was uniquely important to their brand
EcoCart has a wide variety of projects all over the world ensuring that any brand is able to select one to fit their needs.
3. Keep your messaging simple and understandable
With any sustainability initiative it’s important to communicate your impact to your customers, otherwise how else will they know what you’re doing! However, many can become easily lost in sustainability jargon. Use digestible language and metrics when sharing with your customers. For example, instead of saying “Your order will offset 37 lbs of Co2” consider something like: “Your order will help save 5 trees.” This is much easier to conceptualize and help customers actually understand the impact they’re having.
4. Emphasize education versus guilt
At the end of the day, consumers are going to do what they do best—shop. Instead of laying on the guilt telling them not to shop at all, opt for an educational approach. After all, not every customer will be aware of the negative side effects of shopping. By focusing on educating your customers they will better understand your initiatives and are more likely to support them. There’s ample opportunity to highlight the positive impacts caused by making an order carbon neutral when compared to the negative environmental impacts caused by said order.
5. Show impact post-purchase
Reinforcing your customer’s impact post-purchase will establish your brand as one that cares about the environment. Post-purchase notifications and emails about how many trees their order saved remind your customers about how shopping with you is better than your competitors. Plus they are a great tool for customers to be excited about their impact and share these post-purchase emails on social media.
Green Friday with EcoCart
Celebrate and participate in Green Friday with EcoCart by providing carbon neutral orders to your customers! This is a great way to make your Black Friday the most sustainable and engaging one yet.
New to EcoCart? Get set up before Black Friday and we’ll cover the cost of making all your orders carbon neutral that day, and help you launch a successful Green Friday campaign that will attract, engage, and retain the next generation of shoppers!