The Pitfalls of Black Friday

How to avoid the pitfalls of Black Friday and protect your most valuable asset – Your brand.

Black Friday, the annual shopping frenzy marked by steep discounts and crazy consumerism, has become a double-edged sword for businesses and brands. While it promises increased sales and turnover and potentially heightened consumer engagement, the fallout from this retail extravaganza can be detrimental to a brand’s long-term reputation and success.

Erosion of Brand Value:

Black Friday’s emphasis on deep discounts and flash sales may attract a surge of short-term sales, but it often comes at the cost of a brand’s perceived value. When premium sportswear products are slashed in price, consumers may question the true worth of the items, leading to a devaluation of the brand. Over time, this erosion of brand value can compromise the loyalty of existing customers and deter potential ones.

Compromised Customer Loyalty:

While Black Friday may lure new customers seeking some amazing deals, it can simultaneously alienate loyal patrons who feel undervalued. Long-term customers who have supported a brand at regular price points may feel disheartened seeing others gain access to the same products at significantly lower costs. This sense of betrayal can result in a decline in customer loyalty, as individuals question the fairness of the brand’s pricing strategy.

Sportswear brands also need to understand that if you need to reduce the price of your brand to acquire new customers, then perhaps these customers are not your target and will only shop when there’s a deal to be had.

Negative Impact on Brand Image:

The chaotic scenes associated with Black Friday, both in physical stores and online, can tarnish a brand’s image. Reports of stampedes, long lines, and website crashes can create a negative association with the brand, irrespective of the quality of its products. In the age of social media, such incidents can go viral, spreading rapidly and lingering in the collective memory of consumers, leaving a lasting impact on a brand’s reputation.

Quality Perception:

Consumers often equate high prices with quality, and Black Friday discounts can inadvertently challenge this perception. When premium products are heavily discounted, it may lead customers to question the authenticity or quality of the goods.

A quality wetsuit brand is currently offering 80% off their wetsuits in a Black Friday promotion. They quantify the offer by admitting they overbought and need to clear the stock. The issue with this is -:

  1. What’s wrong with the stock. Why not carry this over to next season
  2. Why did you overbuy? In a world that’s waking up to over consumption and waste, why would the brand admit to buying too much.

Sportswear brands must navigate the delicate balance between offering attractive discounts and preserving the perceived value of their products.

Over-reliance on Discounting:

Black Friday can create a dangerous precedent of over-reliance on discounting as a sales strategy. When consumers grow accustomed to significant price reductions during this period, they may become reluctant to make purchases outside of promotional events. This dependence on discounts can hinder a brand’s ability to sustain profitability and establish a stable, long-term pricing strategy.

A great example of this crippled the profits of a cycle brand that were basically on sale every 3-4 months. Consumers never paid full value for their products and it became a common topic by cyclists to ask if they bought that particular brand in the sale.

While the brand had substantial turnover, the profit margin was relatively tiny and well below the industry norm.

Employee and Customer Experience:

The intense pressure to meet Black Friday demands can have a toll on both employees and the customer experience. Overworked staff and frenzied shopping environments can lead to negative interactions between employees and customers. This not only harms the immediate shopping experience but also leaves a lasting impression of a brand that prioritises sales turnover over the well-being of its employees and customers.

Many of the big brands now create collections especially for the Black Friday event. Quality and features are removed to help maintain a better margin that slashing prices on their normal collection, however providing sub-standard product wont impress consumers and will probably result in a loss of long term loyalty.

Environmental and Ethical Concerns:

The mass consumerism associated with Black Friday contributes to environmental degradation through increased production, packaging, and waste. Brands that fail to address these concerns may find themselves at odds with a growing segment of environmentally conscious consumers. Moreover, the rush for bargains often leads to questionable labour practices and ethical concerns in the supply chain, which can further damage a brand’s reputation.

Patagonia were one of the pioneers to push back against Black Friday by switch off their website and closing their stores, instead asking their customers to save their money and go and enjoy the outdoors rather than spend the day in the mall.

Their customers (many of which align themselves with the brand values of Patagonia in terms of ethics and sustainability) loved this and shared their story. This eventually lead to it becoming newsworthy and soon went viral.  Not only did this create free advertising, strengthening their values and brand worth, it made their customers love the brand more, many of who, went to purchase a new garment (at full margin) the following day to support the brand.


In the pursuit of short-term gains, activewear brands must carefully weigh the potential long-term consequences of participating in Black Friday. While the immediate boost in sales may be tempting, the erosion of brand value, compromised customer loyalty, negative impacts on brand image, and other associated risks should not be underestimated. A more nuanced and sustainable approach to sales and marketing, focused on maintaining brand integrity and customer trust, is essential for navigating the pitfalls of Black Friday and ensuring a brand’s longevity in a competitive market.

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