Monday, November 16, 2015

Toms, Mission-Driven Marketing, and the Retail Experience

Stores are where brands sell. Retail experiences are how people buy. And that's why the footwear/eyeware firm Toms pays special attention to the nuances of atmospherics and community when opening its Toms Outpost retail spaces.

Toms is known for its "one for one" charitable program, an integral part of its mission-driven marketing strategy: every time shoppers buy one pair of shoes/eyewear, Toms donates one to someone in need, somewhere in the world.

When thinking about "stores," founder Blake Mycoskie focused on the firm's value-added strategy: "I didn't want to start with a store. I didn't feel like that added any value." His vision was that of a "community outpost" where people can meet, get information, enjoy activities, and--of course--view and purchase products.

The Toms Outpost in lower Manhattan, for example, encourages customers to hang up their coats or hats, sit and sip a latte, and browse branded eyewear and casual clothing or look at what community groups have posted on the bulletin board. It's low-key and allows browsers to explore the brand's values as presented in the retail experience.

The Toms store in Venice, California invites visitors to put on virtual reality glasses and see how purchases of Toms products make a real difference through the "one for one" program. In other words, the mission-driven marketing is on display as part of the retail experience.

By the way, Toms recently launched a line of shoes through a licensing deal with National Geographic Society. The Society's head of licensing stated: “Mission-driven products are more important than ever and this partnership celebrates a new way of thinking for brands and the good they can do through collaboration.”

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