REI's Black Friday Closure Shows Superb Customer Understanding

REI is closing on Black FridayThe aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

Peter Drucker wrote those words decades ago. REI’s decision to keep its stores closed on Thanksgiving and Black Friday demonstrates its marketing prowess today.

As Black Friday ends, I’ve looked at several articles focusing on REI’s decision. Some pointed out that since REI is a co-op and not a publicly traded company, it can afford to stay closed on both days. Others mention how REI’s promotion of its #OptOutside campaign is largely based on creating marketing opportunities for itself. Some writers highlight a demographic characteristic of REI’s target market: most of its customers are middle and higher income.

As I wrote in last week’s Three Audience Views to Consider When Writing for Business Purposes, understanding your audience’s demographics and psychographics is key to creating resonance with them. Creating resonance is critical for the success of copywriters and other marketing content writers.

REI’s encouraging its customers to spend Black Friday outdoors with friends is evidence that REI understands it customers very, very well. Their customers’ income and education (two demographic characteristics) are both above average indicating a customer base that can afford to pass up sales and know they can go online anytime to search around if they want to save money.

It’s REI’s impressive understanding of its target market’s psychographic characteristics, however, that interests me. Obviously as co-owners of an outdoor gear store, REI’s customers enjoy being outdoors (a psychographic lifestyle characteristic). It’s safe to say most of its customers would prefer avoiding noisy, jostling throngs enclosed in buildings.

By keeping its doors closed on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, AND paying its employees during that time, REI elevates its standing on additional psychographic elements. REI emphasizes its respect for family, nature, and its employees. Its decision makes a stand again consumerism and for independence (all psychographic characteristics related to beliefs and values).

REI’s decision to buck the trend of opening earlier and earlier on Black Friday (and lately Thanksgiving as well) not only heightened consumer’s awareness of its brand, it also increased the company’s likability and trustworthiness in the entire market and especially in its target market.

Brilliant marketing move, REI. Peter Drucker would be proud.

As Writing Jim, Jim Driggers provides copywriting and business process writing to owners of small and medium-sized businesses. His clients gain sales through marketing text that better resonates with their customers, and they save money when their employees follow guides rather than impulses. His clients give themselves the time to focus on what they do well when they leave their writing to Writing Jim.

For copywriting help with your print or online content or for help systematizing your business processes, contact Writing Jim at [email protected] or 925-231-5825. Visit for more information.

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