Shoe and eyeglasses brand TOMS has long been recognized for its focus on social responsibility and charitable giving.
Widely known for its “One for One” business model, in which the company donates one item for every pair of shoes or eyeglasses purchased, the company is expanding its charitable initiatives with a new online Marketplace.
TOMS Marketplace is an online retail destination designed to integrate a variety of socially conscious brands into a central location. The new commerce site features a collection of more than 200 products from 30 companies selected by TOMS for their commitment to charitable causes.
“Since we pioneered the One for One movement, we’ve looked for new ways to expand on our responsibility to help others,” said Blake Mycoskie, Founder of TOMS, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The TOMS Marketplace is the next big step in giving our mission a greater scope, by showing commerce is more than just profits; it’s about giving likeminded entrepreneurs a destination to improve shopping while improving lives around the world.”
Paying It Forward
A diverse collection of socially responsible organizations, selling a variety of categories including accessories, apparel, home goods and jewelry, are featured in the TOMS Marketplace. All businesses featured in the Marketplace, including Charity Water, From You With Love, Half United and Movember, were vetted by the TOMS Giving Team.
“The companies and products included in the TOMS Marketplace were handpicked by TOMS through reviews of the companies’ business practices and their giving philosophies,” Mycoskie added. “We chose companies at all stages, from small start-ups to established organizations, that have the core goal of using business to improve people’s lives. We’re inspired by that and want to see these companies succeed.”
As a leader in the charitable giving space, TOMS is not only focused on building its own business, “but also on focusing time, energy, and resources to help inspire and mentor the next wave of socially conscious businesses,” Mycoskie explained. He added that if customers are loyal to TOMS, or have purchased the brand’s products in the past, it is likely that they are interested in learning about other brands with similar principles.
“At TOMS, we feel it’s our obligation to give these shoppers easier access to inspiring products, and to give more exposure to companies that are also integrating a social mission into their products,” Mycoskie said. This “pay it forward” mentality is largely due to the ongoing support TOMS has received from consumers and even large brands such as AT&T, Ralph Lauren and Theory.
“We wouldn’t have been able to get where we are today without the support from our community,” Mycoskie said. Since the inception of TOMS in 2006, the company has delivered more than 10 million pairs of new shoes to children in need, and glasses to more than 175,000 people.
With the new Marketplace, TOMS has created a platform to raise awareness for emerging companies that are following in the brand’s footsteps. “It’s truly humbling to see what we’ve built over the past seven years,” Mycoskie noted, “but even more humbling to see companies, all with unique products, helping to provide to people in need around the world.”
Although TOMS Marketplace was unveiled on Nov. 5, just in time for the holidays, , the brand plans to leverage its “marketing muscle to herald these brands” from season to season, Mycoskie reported. “Our hope is that it becomes a sustainable model that lives on and takes on new people, companies and products.”
In the mean time, TOMS will be promoting the Marketplace and its variety of brands on a New York City billboard and a 30-second video, which is appearing inside more approximately 7,000 New York taxicabs through Dec. 3. Social media also will play a prominent role in generating education and awareness around TOMS Marketplace.
“We have a social plan for each brand involved, utilizing blog posts, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, and Google+ to engage with shoppers,” Mycoskie said. “Each aspect is highly interactive, allowing our 5.5 million audience to leave feedback and provide their own user-generated content.”