LL Bean gave social media the boot but its business still got the kick

As outdoor retailers’ marketing plans run wild, their profits do the same.

outdoor clothing retailer giant revenue

Olivia Heller

While we’re still not convinced this wasn’t some weary social media manager’s elaborate ploy, LL Bean signing off from socials for the entire month of May — its “off the grid” initiative to encourage stepping outside for Mental Health Awareness Month — appears to have been a great move.

In May, LL Bean’s Instagram impressions were actually up 95% YoY. One LinkedIn post from LL Bean’s chairman garnered millions of views, per Marketing Dive.

  • It’s far from LL Bean’s first offbeat marketing tactic. Last year, its Bootmobile drove 5k+ miles and garnered 65k in-person customer interactions.

This all seems to be working in the company’s favor, with revenue reaching $1.8B in 2022, its second-best year on record.

Sprouting sales

LL Bean isn’t the only outdoor apparel retailer going against the grain of standard marketing and business strategy — and reaping the benefits.

  • REI’s Black Friday counter-programming is an annual hit, part of the co-op’s record 2022, when it hit $3.85B in sales.
  • Patagonia’s owners made a PR splash when they gave their $3B stake to a nonprofit designed to ensure the retailer’s ~$100m of annual profit is used to benefit the earth.

BTW: We were today years old when we learned: A) LL Bean was founded by Leon Leonwood Bean in 1912, B) The company’s flagship store in Maine is open 24/7, and C) The company sold eight pairs of its top-selling slippers per minute during the holidays.

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