How to Combat Hyperconsumption on Black Friday
Black Friday is bad for the planet. Period.
All it takes is one look at ‘crazy Black Friday moments’ on YouTube to witness the true insanity that comes with Black Friday. Thousands of people frantically pushing and shoving to get their mitts on the best deals. In my opinion, it’s kinda gross.
It’s also a massive problem for the planet. Black Friday and Cyber Monday might generate billions of dollars for businesses, but at what cost to the planet? The rise of fast fashion is projected to rise to $2.1 trillion by 2025. And where do the trillion dollars worth of fast fashion clothes end up? Landfill, where it sits for thousands of years, taking up space and contaminating the nature around it. Black Friday has become indispensable for retailers across the world – not only to advertise their brand and products but to also make their profit margins. How can we curb needless spending on a day renowned for massive savings? How can we fight against hyperconsumption in an ever-restless society?
The good news is, businesses can help fight against hyperconsumption.
What is Hyperconsumption?
Hyperconsumption can be defined as ‘the consumption of goods for non-functional purposes and the associated significant pressure to consume those goods exerted by the modern, capitalist society, as those goods shape one’s identity’. In other words, consuming for the sake of consuming. Over the years, marketers have become very skilful in crafting a ‘need’ for their products – and this can pressure their audience to buy, no matter how little they may actually ‘need’ it. This, in turn, creates a culture of constant shopping. The consumer is always on the hunt for the next new thing, despite how recent their last purchase.
Black Friday Sales
Founded in the US, Black Friday was a nickname given to the day after Thanksgiving, where stores would heavily discount their products to create more foot traffic. Now it’s become a staple for retailers around the world. The presence of Black Friday, means that the Christmas rush is not contained in December but now spills into November. Many businesses rely on the money that Black Friday brings, so it’s marketed in a way to whip up a frenzy amongst consumers. How can hyperconsumption be controlled when most businesses encourage it?
How Consumers Have Changed
All this impulsive buying has lead to an increase in waste, which is affecting our planet. For example, in a bid to remain on-trend and profitable, fashion retailers will quickly produce inexpensive clothes in mass numbers. These fashion trends can change within weeks, meaning that the consumer will need to buy clothes from their stores again to remain fashionable. The old clothes are often thrown away. Thanks to activists like Greta Thunberg, climate change has been brought to the forefront. Not only are we thinking about our impact on the planet more, but also how our actions will shape the Earth in the future. Buyers don’t want to leave a trail of trash behind them. Instead, they want to be more responsible and thoughtful in their purchases. If you haven’t already, check out The True Cost on Netflix to see the negative impact fast fashion has on the environment.
What Can Companies Do?
Many businesses have noticed this cultural shift in consumer spending, and have used Black Friday to make their stand. Several companies have refused to take part in Black Friday altogether. While some retailers simply don’t discount their stock, others close for the day – a few going as far as to ‘blackout’ their website. British designer Christopher Raeburn did just this. He also started the hashtag, #BuyNothingDay, urging his customers to ‘think twice before you make a purchase today’.
Other companies have used the money gained from Black Friday to benefit others – donating their profits to a charity or cause. In France over two hundred businesses have come together for a movement called ‘Make Friday Green Again’, where 10% of all profits earned from Black Friday go to charities. In 2016, American company Patagonia gave 100% of their Black Friday profits to support environmental causes. In doing so, they raised $10 million for different charities.
Black Friday can also be seen as an opportunity to give to those in need. Companies that produce products that are useful to the less fortunate can give them away as a part of their Black Friday sales. Supermarkets have donated food to underprivileged areas for every purchase over a certain amount. In 2018, Wuka, a company that sells period pants, offered to give a woman in Nepal one pair of pants for every two pairs sold during the Black Friday sales.
While donating profit is a good gesture, it doesn’t combat the consumption part of the problem. Black Friday and hyperconsumption no longer need to go hand in hand if companies can use the day to raise awareness or contribute towards a healthier planet. And as retailers make the change, so will the consumers.
Here are four alternatives to Black Friday for your business.
- The best thing you can do is educate yourself and educate your customers on the negative impact of Black Friday
- Treat yourself to a day off and shut up shop!
- Stay open, but keep your prices as is and use the day to create awareness for the problems that Black Friday cause.
- Stay open, keep your prices the same and offer to give a percentage of profit to a Climate Change organisation of your choice.