The retail expert on how brands should handle Black Friday
Ola Gejde also explains why making a statement against it becomes a part of the problem.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
November 21, 2022
A constant discount culture within the retail world. That’s how Ola Gejde describes what Black Friday has become.
— Brands and retailers, he says, have educated their customers to wait for a lower price.
Working with international business development for most of his career in various product segments, he started niche retail and brand consultancy Diamon ten years ago, together with Linda Bradley and Camilla Strange, helping brands and retailers within fashion, beauty, and interior design with international expansion.
— We work both with strategical advice and hands-on operational support to navigate into new markets and we also invest in selected eco-striving brands that we think have a strong niche and global potential.
What do you think is wrong with how brands handle Black Friday? And why is this a problem?
— There is no urgency to buy at regular price anymore as you know you will get at least 20% discount if you can wait a month and the sales periods are getting longer every year. I am also amazed to see the number of premium brands, that never before offered any discounts, now taking part in the discount culture. So maybe going back to just a ’Black Friday’ is the answer to all problems…, Gejde suggests, continuing:
— When it comes to brand value, I have always had the opinion that it depends on the mission and core values of the brand. If the mission is to promote longevity and slow consumption it of course goes against your brand message, but if this is not the case, sales offers and promotion are part of everyday business. However, I must say that the ’fear of missing out’ has been obvious since Black Friday entered our region’s retail scene and many brands should return to their core values.
So, what should they do instead?
— If you have a sustainable message, my advice would be to neglect Black Friday. Don’t even market that you are against it, act as cool sustainable brands do, it is just part of their DNA and nothing they brag about.
”Why not a Green Friday every week?”
Yes, because that has also become a thing, where more and more brands make a statement against Black Friday.
— I agree completely. If you do marketing about banning Black Friday offers, you are still part of the commercial game trying to benefit from it. I think (Swedish outdoor retailer) Naturkompaniet did a good thing last year by pushing Green Friday where they offer repair service for their customers. However, they still make a statement about not doing Black Friday. Why not a Green Friday every week?
Looking ahead, how shouldbrands handle the challenging macroeconomic situation that we’re facing?
— The customers of today are well educated and engaged so I would say the most important thing you should offer as a brand is transparency and honesty. The customer should be able to trust the brand. If you’re not fully sustainable — almost no one is — then, be open with it and set targets. It’s OK to be striving to be green. Finding collaboration partners for renewable materials, energy, and water supply should be critical going forward — stay connected and research innovative solutions. Also, be available and remember to treat your loyal customers well. Or, to put it short: be available, treat loyal customers well, stop greenwashing, be honest and transparent, and stay at your core says Gejde. He adds:
— A few years ago, many brands came to us and wanted to expand internationally using the DTC model. This turned out to be difficult and very expensive and now they are coming back again wanting a mixed-channel model. The cost of ’buying’ a customer online has increased tremendously and it is hard to build a brand from scratch only online if you don’t have a pile of money. Global online platforms are the new brand builders and the independent retailers with a loyal local consumer base who survived the hardship years of Covid19 are now back in business as helpers to brands to be seen and experienced in new markets.
”It’s OK to be striving to be green.”
— Global online platforms are the new brand builders.
— The ’fear of missing out’ has been obvious since Black Friday entered our region’s retail scene and many brands should return to their core values.
— If you do marketing about banning Black Friday offers, you are still part of the commercial game trying to benefit from it.