With this year’s Black Friday expected to be ecommerce heavy and a logistical nightmare for the US shipping infrastructure, the Knix brand decided to skip the shopping vacation altogether and instead encourage people to shop earlier in the month. A warehouse sale took place on November 10th that lasted only two hours. At the same time, customers were notified via email and social media that there would be no sale or discount on the actual day of Black Friday, as there had been in previous years.
Joanna Griffiths, CEO of Knix, said the brand sold more than 85,000 pairs of underwear during the sale and grossed more than $ 1 million in the first 15 minutes before it sold out. It far exceeded revenue from the brand’s previous Black Friday sales.
While other brands like Friday and Patagonia Griffiths took inspiration from the success of an earlier warehouse sale for the brand in April that saw similar record sales to try an early warehouse sale as an alternative.
“It’s something we’ve been talking about for a few years just because we watched the great ordeal that Black Friday became,” Griffiths said. “It’s gotten so loud and crowded, and it’s much more expensive to get your message across on the different platforms. Everyone sends the same message and it’s hard to be heard.”
Griffiths said she was unprepared for the demand from the April sale. The quick sell-out resulted in a large number of customers on social media expressing disappointment that they couldn’t get anything. For the November sale, the company tripled the available inventory and designed new products and colors of existing products specifically for sale.
Knix didn’t spend a single dollar marketing the sale. Instead, the brand targeted existing customers via email and text message and asked its ambassadors, who are paid a commission for every product sold, to report on the sale on social media. Selling was entirely online through a separate website set up for sales only. Despite having two stores in Canada, Griffiths said the vast majority of Knix’s sales are made through its website.
Griffiths said the reason the sale was so successful was due to three factors: Outside of the two inventory sales, Knix made no sales. The brand’s ambassador network and exclusive product also helped create a sense of urgency and excitement in the sale. The use of calendar reminder options embedded in announcement email and SMS messages helped keep the event on customers’ radar.
“Because our previous sale sold out so quickly, we had a lot of excitement and urgency from the community to get something as soon as the second sale went online,” said Griffiths. “And that really helped us. We actually looked at how many sneaker brands are doing this to strike that balance between exclusivity and still having enough product so that people don’t get disappointed with what we didn’t do in April. “
While this strategy of hosting an earlier Black Friday alternative sale has worked well for Knix, it’s unclear how effective it could be for other brands, given some shopping behavior data this year. In a November CommerceHub poll of 2,500+ consumers, 71% said they would wait for Black Friday to shop regardless of previous deals. They feel that the multitude of deals available will result in more affordable shopping. Brands that are more ad-supported than Knix and don’t have such an engaged audience may not be able to change these behaviors that easily.
However, some analysts have come out in favor of the idea of spreading Christmas shopping beyond the days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
“This holiday season is definitely going to be longer than usual,” said Lihi Pinto Fryman, co-founder and CRO of Syte product discovery platform. “Creating shopping spikes outside of the standard dates can therefore be a great way to stand out in a sea of sales and staggering traffic for optimal performance.”