Since they first launched in 2006, TOMS has always been in business to improve lives and has impacted nearly 100,000,000 lives. Mycoskie created Toms in 2006, who, when traveling through Argentina and saw the hardships faced by children without shoes. Mycoskie was inspired to create a for-profit business with giving at its core. TOMS’s one-for-one giving model was both revolutionary and extremely easy for consumers to understand. Here’s how it worked – Buy a pair of shoes, and a child in a developing country gets a pair of shoes.
And with that, TOMS—short for Tomorrow’s Shoes —was born.
TOMS’s launch led to massive fanfare in their initial years, followed by rapid success later. Such a reception made Toms one of the first mainstream purpose-driven fashion companies ever.
TOMS retails in over 500 stores worldwide, including many in Asia, from department stores to independent outlets. Since its inception, the company has gifted almost 100 million shoes to underprivileged children worldwide, including in Argentina, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Rwanda, South Africa, and the United States.
However, TOMS Shoes has faced a challenge in recent years to lower the prices of their merchandise. Especially as the appeal and novelty of their “One-for-One” model of donating a pair of shoes or per purchase have worn off. They applied this buy-one-give-one business model to their expanding product line over the years, including eyewear, coffee, and apparel.
TOMS new giving model is defined this way: For every $3 the company makes, it gives $1 away.
However, TOMS will continue to distribute shoes (and other items like eyeglasses and water as it has always been doing given its diverse business) to those in need.
What this essentially means is that in addition to donating shoes, a third of their net profits go towards financing a range of philanthropic projects working on social causes.
For example, their “Pick your style, pick your stand,” allows shoppers to choose a specific issue towards which a percentage of their purchase would go. The choices presented to a customer covered real-world problems ranging from physical safety, mental health, and equal access to opportunity. To ensure that the issues TOMS focuses on align well with the causes its customers are passionate about, TOMS uses consumer insights.
When a niche becomes the norm, every business makes pivots to stay relevant to its customers. It seems like TOMS has taken a step in the right direction.
Picture credits: TOMS Facebook page