Aside from mobile apps that create a seamless physical-digital experience for its members, REI digs in its values-based heels with Opt Outside, a digital campaign that clearly displays REI’s relentless commitment to the outdoors.
What started as a one-time PR play, REI’s Opt Outside campaign has turned into a movement. Opt Outside is arguably REI’s biggest digital display of their values: Every year, on Black Friday, as many stores are clocking their highest revenue day of the year, REI closes its doors and urges its customers to go outside instead.
You’d be hard-pressed to find Black Friday revenue numbers for the outdoor company, since, technically, they don’t participate. But in its first year alone, #OptOutside warranted a “23% uptick in digital sales,” according to Retail Touchpoints. And in 2019, REI saw an overall 8% increase in digital sales.
When REI introduced Opt Outside in 2015, it garnered a “7,000% increase in social impressions and more than 2.7 billion media impressions in the first 24 hours, not to mention an absurd 9 Cannes Lions for REI’s PR agency, Edelman,” according to data gathered by Sprout Social. Not to mention that the use of the #OptOutside hashtag shows a trend in increased customer loyalty and referrals. Sprout Social found that the hashtag went from “338K engagements in 2015 to 11.6 million in 2019.”
Everything the co-op has done over its 82 years has intended to do one thing: get people outside. And not only do people get outside, but they buy from REI to do so. According to REI’s CIO, Julie Averill, in a New Relic case study, technology aids in their mission of getting people outdoors. “[Technology] can help them find great gear, help them have a great experience in our stores. It can help them find a great trail, help them get access to expertise, and it can help them find community.”