Shoe Shopping Your Way Through CSR

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Just yesterday I was on a shoe shopping expedition with my mother. In a room overflowing with high heels and sneakers, we narrowed down our options and made our final purchasing decisions based on to the following categories:

  1. Style
  2. Comfort
  3. Price

TOMS Shoes has added a fourth category to the mix: Social Impact.

Blake Mycoskie founded TOMS Shoes using a one-for-one business model. When any pair of shoes is purchased, another pair of shoes is donated to a child in need. Since the successful launch of the company, TOMS has expanded to selling eyewear using the same one-for-one policy. Other companies have caught onto the one-for-one wave. Warby Parker, another eyeglass company employs a similar CSR model: “buy a pair, give a pair.”

The success of TOMS Shoes is based on a variety of factors. In particular, TOMS Shoes gained the interest of their target market by utilizing the following tactics:

  • Embracing the trend– A new wave of “ethical consumers” has emerged. Ethical consumerism involves purchasing products and services that do the least damage to society and the environment. TOMS Shoes takes ethical consumerism to the next level. Instead of strictly offering products that ethical consumers won’t see as damaging to their community, TOMS Shoes offers a means for consumers to feel actively engaged in benefiting society.
  • Storytelling marketing– A 2014 article in The Guardian cites Jennifer Aaker, a marketing professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Her research concludes that “…our brains are not hard-wired to understand logic or retain facts for very long. Our brains are wired to understand and retain stories. A story is a journey that moves the listener, and when the listener goes on that journey they feel different and the result is persuasion and sometimes action.” TOMS Shoes effectively utilizes storytelling tactics when marketing the brand. Founder, Blake Mycoskie serves as a brand ambassador who tells a compelling story and the children in need tell their own stories through videos and images. Below you will find two examples of TOMS using the storytelling method.
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