Patagonia: does purpose-driven strategy work?
One of the biggest outdoor gear and apparel brands, a longtime advocate of sustainability, announced a bold strategy last week. It wants to help save the world.
On Sept. 14, Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard penned a letter declaring Earth as the company's only shareholder, a commitment that received international attention.
Keep reading to learn more about why some are celebrating– and others are criticizing– this purpose-driven strategy.
Why it Works
Authenticity: Patagonia's decision to commit to the Earth falls directly in line with its central values and campaigns, which have kept the planet in mind for decades. Chouinard co-founded the organization 1% for the planet, which now includes thousands of businesses that donate 1% of sales to the environment. As a result, Patagonia's move comes off as authentic and urgent, expressing its stake in preserving our resources.
Leadership: The move also distinguishes Patagonia as a business leader in the effort to combat climate change. While there are debates about the best solutions for climate change, Patagonia's announcement could mark a step in the right direction. By providing financial and tangible support, other companies could do the same. Becoming a leader involves assuming risk, and Patagonia does just that, writes Alex Lewis for AdWeek.
Consumer Values: Aligning your company's values with sustainability isn't just good for the planet. It can be suitable for your brand. According to an article by Chelsea Sy of Team Lewis, most Gen Z consumers prioritize sustainability and are willing to pay up to 10% more to support those products and brands.
The Other Side
Profitability: Some have feared that Patagonia's decision is a strategy to be classified as a 501c3 organization, which could allow the company a tax break. Some sources, like this Grist article, have noted that by donating profits, the company's legal standing could change, which might also impact political and economic environments.
Consumerism: If your brand expects to grow alongside a specific mission, ensure that consumerism and a desire for sales do not compromise ethics, worsen pollution, or generate more waste. As demand increases, guarantee your brand handles all aspects from production to marketing in a way that aligns with its values. Learn more at this page.
Whether you agree or disagree with this purpose-driven strategy, Patagonia's choice has put the brand at the center of an international conversation. Outdoor brands can use this to understand the benefits of prioritizing customer values, leadership, and authenticity in their purpose-driven strategies.
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