Avoiding the Herds

blue pumpkins

REI’s announcement that they’ll be closed this Black Friday was impressive on many levels. It was a bold move and one that perfectly aligns with their mission that being outside makes our lives better. The news struck us as not just a brilliant marketing tactic but also one that’s very authentic to who they are: an outdoor company.

Perhaps most importantly, REI’s move emphasized the fact that they’re not following the herd. Which got us thinking about the herd mentality and the reality that it can lead us all down paths that we’re not even conscious of choosing –- ones very similar in nature to those on Black Friday. A research report from scientists at the University of Leeds found that it takes a minority of just 5% to influence a crowd’s direction, and that the other 95% follow without realizing it.

So how and why does that happen? It’s human nature to want to follow the herd, to do what everyone else is doing, to feel included, to be a part of the group, to not miss out. Whatever the cause, it’s always a good idea to think about what’s really motivating you.

But back to Black Friday and the herds. Originally, Black Friday was a day manufactured by retailers to try and drum up business during a very slow period, when families were at home spending time together. It began as a day with unparalleled deals meant to entice people out. And it used to be just that. Lately however, Black Friday has turned into a frenzy, an unruly day of herds. So who really wins? Mostly, the retailers who created the hype –– and not the majority of the people who find themselves shopping at 2 a.m. or fighting the crowds just to park the car.

This Forbes article provides some interesting insights about avoiding the herd mentality. And we’ll continue the topic in our next post where we’ll discuss the herd mentality as it relates to investing. Stay tuned.

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