12 | shopassociation.org RETAIL ENVIRONMENTS july.august.2016
and part of that includes offering dis-
counts both to push stock and to boost
footfall. But in the run-up to Christmas
2015, some retailers were not in the
giving mood, refusing to participate
in Black Friday discounting.
Outdoors brand REI announced it
would close all 143 of its stores on Black
Friday and encourage its employees and
customers to #OptOutside and spend
the day exploring the outdoors, rather
than standing in queues.
Similarly, British furniture company
Vitsoe closed its shops in New York and
London on Black Friday to avoid the
“insanity” that the day promotes. This
was part of Vitsoe’s greater strategy,
which includes never discounting, never
selling items on commission, and minimal markups.
Brandstanding—attracting consumers by
taking a stand—has changed from
being about aligning your brand with a
positive cause to embracing causes that
may not make everyone happy. Fashion
brand Biba took on the divisive issue
of arranged marriages in a digital campaign for the Indian market. Pushing for
change in tradition, the film shows that
women should expect their husbands to
be able to cook for and cater to them.
Dictatorial Dining. Restaurateurs
and chefs are altering the relationship
between themselves and their diners by
making changes to their menus and services despite repercussions. The Union
Square Hospitality Group is eliminating
tipping in all 13 of its New York bars and
restaurants this year, increasing menu
prices to pay for higher wages for their
servers instead. “The tipping system is
antithetical to creating a profession for
people who take their jobs seriously.
You don’t tip your doctor if they do a
good job; you don’t tip the airline pilot
if the plane lands,” founder Danny
Meyer told CNBC. “[Tipping] is
actually a demeaning practice.”
Eliminating the à la carte menu is
another way restaurants are dictating the rules. Several restaurants offer
tasting-menu-only options, which helps
their bottom line. At Australian restaurant Lûmé, customers are treated to a
tasting menu of 18 to 20 courses, the
contents of which remain a mystery until
the end of the meal. Diners must rely on
their sense of taste and smell to distinguish the ingredients.
Becoming a backlash brand
Ready to join the brave few brands chang-
ing the rules? Here’s food for thought:
• The adage “all publicity is good
publicity” remains true in social media.
While consumers can quickly respond
negatively, brands can also reply speedily
and stand their ground.
• Having a self-righteous opinion may
attract fans to your brand.
• You don’t want anyone who doesn’t
want you. Rather than letting consumers
opt out, brands should encourage an opt-in
culture where the consumer wants you.
Embracing the backlash doesn’t
necessarily mean always going against
consumer demand. It is about considering what is right for your company and
maybe rejecting tradition, as many in the
fashion industry are doing in a reaction
against the nonsensical cycles of the
This article is excerpted from the Shop!
Quarterly Trend Report, with content
from our partner LS:N Global, a source
dedicated to identifying and analyzing
macro- and micro-consumer trends. The
this trend and outlines nine strategies
for capturing the market. Members may
access the report at shopassociation.org/