The brands we’ll follow this holiday season


Which one is not like the others?

1) Bum rushing toward the 70 percent off TV, knocking over grandma and a 6-year-old and disregard you got trampled on the way there.

2) Skipping the turkey and candied yams to wait in an insanely long line in the freezing cold.

3) REI’s CEO announcing its stores will be closed on this quintessential retail day of the year.

Yep, I’m sure you guessed it. They’re all about Black Friday and the season opener of the holiday shopping marathon we’re all about to head into and unequivocally the biggest shopping day of the year. But #3 made our eyes widen and our ears perk and we’ll get to that in a sec.

REI. With the holidays coming up, brands have made some solid moves to maintain or boost their reputation and competitive edge. We’ll be following them this holiday season to see who will come out on top. Here’s our list, and we’ve checked it twice:Check out this interview where CEO Jerry Stritzke detailed how he informed employees about their Black Friday respite: “While the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we hope to see you in the great outdoors.” Why do we love this? REI has stayed true to their brand regardless of what everyone else is doing. As the hosts in this CBS interview discussed, yes, there was probably a very strong influence from PR that went along with this decision, however, it didn’t seem like just a PR stunt for publicity’s sake. It very mindfully wove everything that matters when it comes to brand awareness and company reputation –keeping their customers in mind and following their co-op principles. We’ve seen so many companies blindly think into the ether and itch for snagging the latest thing that will get huge buzz even though it’s not aligned at all with their core message. REI did this gracefully and perfectly on brand. I even love the #OptOutside campaign; it’s obviously trending.

Nordstrom. The classy department store has stayed true to its promise from years ago. Holiday decorations won’t go up until AFTER Thanksgiving. Sometimes brands can be a bit much when it comes to pushing any reason to get you to buy. For those who put up the lights and wreaths up before Halloween, I say to you… Slow your roll. People may just think you’re being a bit forward and tacky.

Shops that’ll keep its doors closed until after turkey day ends. According to this recent article, stores such as GameStop, Lowe’s, and TJX won’t fall under the door buster sale of the year gimmick to get people to spend their money a few hours early rather than spend some time with their families. It’s not always about the sale. This is about respecting your employees, ones who will work hard on Black Friday and every day after that until Dec. 25. Brand reputation is all encompassing – from their product, to their customer service, to how they treat their employees. People see this and they do take notice, so brands beware.

I think there’s a line that’s been crossed with retailers during the holidays. We understand there’s major money to be made. But is it at the mercy of keeping employees happy, respecting shoppers, or sticking to your brand and core values and message?

If so, it might be time to rethink your strategy.