It would be wrong to say TOMS shoes invented the Buy-One-Give-One model when it hit the market in 2006, but students of purpose marketing would agree that it quickly became the best-known company associated with that form of embedded giving.
That is why it struck so many so hard when TOMS – which had gone into such a steep business decline that it almost went bankrupt in 2019 – announced recently that it had completely moved away from linking the sale of its shoes to giving shoes to poor people. Now the company pledges it will give 1/3 of its profits to organizations creating grassroots good – a much more amorphous concept.
I’ve followed the rise and fall of TOMS’s BOGO program with great interest over the years. For most consumers the great appeal of TOMS was the apparent simplicity of the offering “you buy a pair of shoes, we give a pair to a person in need.” But it didn’t take a very deep study of the LA-based company to realize that giving away shoes on a mass level was anything but simple.
Amidst this backdrop of continuous change, staying apprised of the latest social impact trends is challenging.
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