The TOMS Shoe Model: Meaning or Marketing?

In the last few years, doing good and helping others has become fashionable with companies left and right clamoring to get on the do-gooding bandwagon. One of the more interesting efforts is the buy-one, give-one model, a concept most associated with TOMS shoes but which is quickly gaining additional corporate followers. And while it’s certainly hard to criticize any of these companies’ efforts, I can’t help but wonder if we might be overcelebrating….

…Which leads me to this question: In supporting brands like TOMS, are we really trying to do good? Or are we just buying stuff that comes with a case of the warm-and-fuzzies?…

….In talking to some friends about this, many expressed the viewpoint that doing good isn’t the primary motivation for buying from these companies; instead, it’s a bonus…..

….Of course, there are other, more complex layers to this debate. As Carolina Vallejo has asked with her Design for the First World project: Who the heck are we to decide what other people need most? I’m not saying that shoes or glasses aren’t of value to any particular group of people. But are they more valuable than a new school, or clean water, or livestock, or pharmaceuticals? The truth is, I don’t know. And while I think that TOMS’s Blake Mycoskie and those like him are doing fantastic things, I worry that someone who buys a pair of TOMS will consider their job done. They’ll feel good about their $50 shoe purchase, knowing they’ve just given a pair to a child in need when a donation of half that amount could have possibly helped that child in substantially more impactful ways.

The questions don’t stop there with buy-one, give-one products, either. Are these products environmentally friendly? Are they biodegradable? What’s the footprint of the manufacturing process? Who makes them and under what conditions? Are we somehow doing harm in one area in order to do good somewhere else?….

Click here for the complete article.

DBlawg: I have also thought a lot about the TOMs shoe phenomenon. As someone who is interested in contributing to beneficial programs, projects and products, I was all excited to go out and get a new pair of TOMS when they first hit the street, but then I realized I wasn’t really into the design or quality of the shoe. And, frankly, they seemed really expensive. I mean,  I know the idea is to buy one & get one for someone else, but it seemed like I would have paid a lot of money for two pairs of crappy shoes… Thanks for the article GOOD!

Advertisements