business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Today is Earth Day, and one outdoors-focused company is doing more than pay lip service to the moment.

Marketing Daily has a story about how North Face is closing all of its 113 stores in the US and Canada, as well as its corporate offices, “so employees and customers can spend time outdoors.”

The story points out that “lots of companies make an Earth Day gesture, but Alameda, California-based North Face has a nature-loving image built into its product line of outdoor sports gear and activewear. Last year the company featured a new collection of T-shirts and totes made from cotton and recycled bottles that it sourced from three National Parks’ trash, and donated $1 from every sale to the National Park Foundation to support sustainability projects.”

This reminds me of what REI has done the past few years, closing its stores on Black Friday - traditionally a huge shopping day - and telling its customers that they would be better off going out to take a hike than spending time in stores shopping. Patagonia has also become more overtly political ion recent years, from closing its stores on Election Day 2018 to allow its employees plenty of time to vote to filing lawsuits against Trump administration efforts to roll back what the company sees as necessary environmental protections.

It is always a risk - such positions can alienate some customers even as it entices others. But for these companies, I think, it represents a pretty good sense of what their customers think and how their customers feel. These positions are keyed to and reinforce their brand identities.

And that’s the Eye-Opener.
KC's View: