Cyber Monday was a huge success this year. Sales were up 22% from last year’s reaching $1.25 billion, the highest sales to date. Yet, retailer, Patagonia decided to ask their consumers to buy less in support of lowering consumerism and reducing our environmental footprint. In an email campaign and on the front page of their website, Patagonia’s simple headline above their popular fleece jacket, said, “Don’t buy this jacket.” Below this headline was a button to, instead, take a pledge to save the environment.
Powerful? Yes. Risky? Yes. Good marketing? Absolutely.
One important facet of marketing is increasing sales and another is creating brand awareness. Both are worthwhile, however which one holds more weight is always in debate. I believe in this campaign, it was more important for Patagonia to create awareness around an issue they stand behind.
Although, Patagonia didn’t stop anyone from making a purchase on Cyber Monday – even off their own website – their message leaves an impact and makes people think. From a marketing perspective, it aligns Patagonia with their consistent commitment to save the environment. They speak of how “environmental bankruptcy, as with corporate bankruptcy, can happen very slowly, then all of a sudden. This is what we face unless we slow down, then reverse the damage.”
Just as important, this specific message is very unsuspecting – which is usually a recipe for getting attention and breaking through the clutter. On a day when buying items is encouraged across the Internet, the point of Patagonia’s message is to discourage it. How differentiating is that?
Lastly, Patagonia’s message speaks directly to the people who are most likely to buy their products – helping them increase their brand awareness with their target audience. Furthermore, Patagonia does this honestly by offering up the impact the production of this specific fleece jacket leaves on the environment. This gives Patagonia more credibility with their loyal base who are always the most valuable consumers.
In my opinion, whether people bought or did not buy from Patagonia on Cyber Monday is irrelevant and I don’t think it was the goal of this particular campaign. What’s relevant is that the message Patagonia crafted was different and was specifically targeted to make their audience pay attention to them. It allowed Patagonia to stand out amidst a crowd of retailers and this got them heard. As a marketer, sometimes a campaign like this has a much more profound impact than a quick bump in sales.