Anna Brightman, co-founder of circular beauty company, UpCircle, shares how they have experienced Black Friday and tips for other small businesses:

Every year we get asked how we’re approaching the period as a sustainable brand and 2021 is no different. Black Friday is considered to be highly unsustainable – it has a growing reputation for excessive consumption and greed. We’ve all seen the crazy videos of stampedes – thousands of wild-eyed bargain hunters trampling over each other to fill their trolleys with TVs and vacuums by the dozen. Black Friday is typically a time of mindless, rather than mindful consumption – pretty much the antithesis of the conscious and considered approach we take here at UpCircle. However, we’ve found a way to make Black Friday work. This year, for us, every Friday is Black Friday. We’re encouraging mindful shopping throughout November with a different offer every Friday. We know the bombardment of “BUY THIS IMMEDIATELY!” offers wherever you look over Black Friday is enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed. Which is why we’re slowing things down and bringing calm to the chaos. Each Friday we’re offering a new promotion. We believe this will enable our customers (or “UpCirclers”) to make pre-planned, rather than panicked, purchases.

Our week 1 offer was a free refill voucher with every order over the weekend AND we launched two(-ish) new products! Here’s how it went:

  • We saved over 1,200 pieces of packaging
  • We invited our customers to register for an “Early Access Sale” for these launches. Within just four hours of announcing this, we had more people signed up than we had stock!
  • The number of first-time orders was x3 the average
  • Our new Chai Latte candle was the best-seller
  • We beat our sales target for the launch weekend by 28%

Our week 2 offer was a FREE organic, circular tote bag with every order over £40 AND we launched three new products! Here’s how it went:

  • Our average basket spend increased by 25% compared with the average
  • We received our largest ever UK Shopify order
  • The Night Cream was the most popular of the three new products launched
  • We sold just 2 more Hand + Body Washes than Hand + Body Lotions, so people are certainly viewing those two products as a set (as we predicted, we designed them with this in mind)

Our week 3 offer was simply ‘buy one get one half price’. Here’s how it went:

  • We achieved 50% of our target in one day alone
  • The Night Cream continues to be our new bestseller
  • We had lots of customer feedback from people saying they were glad to be able to shop for what they wanted at a great price, ahead of the “official” Black Friday sales period

Our final Slowvember offer starts this Friday and we’re offering ‘buy more, save more’ – with up to 40% off. As with all our Slowvember offers, our already discounted refill products (20% vs RRP) are included, so we expect to save even more packaging this Cyber Weekend.

Here’s our view on participating in Black Friday:

We want to see an UpCircle product in every home

As a company, we are trying to maximise our positive impact on the world.  We genuinely believe that our products are better than mainstream alternatives due to their sustainability credentials – our company is vegan, cruelty-free, upcycled, organic, 99% plastic-free, handmade and all-natural. If by offering honouring Black Friday we convert one consumer who has been on the side-lines about our brand into a loving loyal customer, then we’re one step closer to achieving our bigger mission.

Did someone say refills?!

We’re very proud to be a circular business and this year even our packaging became circular, with the launch of our Return, Refill, Reuse scheme. In our first three months of launching, we saved over 5,000 pieces of packaging! By including our (already discounted) refills in our Black Friday offers, we’re hoping to save even more packaging and recruit more UpCirclers into our refill revolution.

Sustainable savings from start to finish

Our discount is one which is sustainable for us. We are offering a discount that we as a business can absorb. We want to offer customers the opportunity to buy our products at a lower price than any other time of the year, but not to the extent that it is to the detriment of our brand’s progression. We are personally absorbing the full cost of Black Friday. Nobody further down our supply or production chain is taking the hit. We have seen brands offering 70% + discounts. We can’t and won’t offer price cuts that extreme. It does not align with our ethics. It also begs the question – if you can afford to cut the price that much, are you charging too much in the first place? Our offers are responsible, realistic and reasonable.

There is no “one-size-fits-all”

Every offer throughout November is unique, just like all our wonderful UpCirclers are. For some of us a free refill will be the winner, whilst for others the ‘buy more, save more’ offer will come out trumps. We know everyone’s situation and priorities are different, which is why we’re offering different discounts every week.

Give the people what they want!

We’ve been asked constantly what our plans are for Black Friday for WEEKS! We simply can’t ignore what our customers have been asking for. We’re proud to offer a great loyalty scheme and frequent promotions all year round, but these offers are a Slowvember exclusive.

By participating we are not trying to encourage greed or a throwaway culture, we simply hope that by offering great deals throughout November we are enticing people to make BETTER choices. And we just might grow our family of UpCirclers a little, too!