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TOMS is leading the way for brands in the age of authenticity

TOMS has long been a brand focused on more than profitability. Since its launch in 2006, the company has been a leader in social responsibility, selling high-quality, fashionable shoe wear, sunglasses, and apparel while donating more than 60 million pairs of shoes to those in need and restoring eyesight to more than 400,000 individuals. As leading organizations around the world have recognized the importance of social responsibility, for TOMS, making the world better is more than an initiative, it is core to the company’s growth and direction.

Recently, TOMS has expanded its social programming once again, tackling a new issue with its “End Gun Violence Together” campaign. You may have seen founder Blake Mycoskie announce the campaign during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Mycoskie, who was moved to action following the tragic and deadly shooting at a country music bar in Thousand Oaks, California, initiated a $5 million donation to organizations fighting gun violence which is the largest public corporate donation to the issue in our nation’s history. Following the campaign’s kickoff, TOMS began collecting digital postcards from customers and fans on the company’s homepage, and in January, kicked off a nationwide tour culminating in a rally in Washington, D.C. on February 5th, where TOMS delivered more than 700,000 signed postcards to Congress. The tour was timed to align with HR8, a bipartisan bill that was then passed by the House of Representatives, which calls for universal background checks during the purchase of a firearm.

At Olapic, we are proud to work with TOMS and are in full support of their social mission to end gun violence and help less fortunate communities around the world. While not every organization may be born with a clear social purpose, we also believe that every company can learn from TOMS about how to authentically communicate with their audiences and align with issues that are important to them.

Over the past few years, research has demonstrated that consumers, especially millennials, want to buy from brands that align with their values. One survey, for example, conducted by Sprout Social revealed that two-thirds of consumers surveyed want brands to take a stand on social or political issues. Another study by Edelman showed that consumer purchases are becoming more and more “belief-driven,” and uncovered a similar finding that 65% of consumers are making belief-driven purchasing decisions. This trend buck’s traditional wisdom, which has made brands historically stay out of polarizing or political discussions to avoid alienating part of their customer-base. Today, consumers expect authenticity and transparency, and given increased global competition, they are going to buy from brands they believe are consistent with their worldview.

As a result, many brands (including TOMS) are making bolder decisions in their marketing strategy, such as Nike’s campaign featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, or Patagonia donating the $10 million it received from last year’s tax cut to fight climate change through grassroots environmental organizations.

Every generation of consumers has issues and challenges that are unique to their place in history. Now and into the future, it is clear that organizations who want to succeed in this era will need to take risks, and align to social issues they believe in. We at Olapic look forward to working alongside leaders like TOMS, who are pushing the envelope and demonstrating that it is possible to perform financially while changing the world.

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