How Opt for Outside was a simple choice for REI and the marketing genius behind it.

REI, a leader in outdoor retail, has announced it’s decision to keep its doors shut the day after Thanksgiving. The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday and is one of the top shopping days in the U.S.. The excitement of deals leads to consumers racing out of their homes earlier and earlier on the holiday to make it out to stores to get the best prices.

REI is going to have all 143 of their stores closed on Black Friday and paying their employees to spend the day outside. They are hoping that you will choose to do the same by sharing their decision with friends and family and “opting to go outside” and explore for the day. While this may sound like the ethically correct choice and the right thing to do for their employees, further examination of the tactic reveals insightful marketing techniques that are actually saving the company money whilst earning free publicity.

REI is a large retailer of everything outdoors, this includes shoes and clothes to canoes and bikes to the equipment you didn’t even know you needed. The stores target demographic is everyone who spends time participating in outdoor activities and has a controlled disposable income to take time off and keep up with the latest equipment. When you think about this demographic do you see them as part of the group that leaves dinner early or sets their alarm clocks for 3 a.m. to fight crowds in stores? The REI demographic is already probably planning to stay at home and enjoy family time or one of the last nice days outside before winter hits anyway. Therefore by taking the initiative to close the stores for the day and run the campaign to go outside they are connecting more with their target audience and gaining popularity and promotions through it.

Many other stores like Staples, Game Stop and Half Priced Books are also staying closed on Black Friday, because office supplies are at the top of no ones Holiday list and prove no great advantage being open. Though they aren’t running large campaigns like REI to announce it and explain their reasoning behind it.

REI was smart in realizing that this wasn’t a large selling holiday and aligning their choices to stay consistent with the brand to gain the publicity from the campaign. Whatever the reasoning behind the closing, I think that the idea is great and that everyone should take a little more time to focus on what they are thankful for and to be with the ones that are important to them.



Written by Garnett Bruce, Team Member of – Garnett is a senior at Butler University studying marketing and strategic communication who loves to see people reach their goals. She seeks to constantly learn and evolve. Reprint allowed if including author credit.