Would you be so bold as to align your company with immigration issues? What about LGBTQ rights? Most companies shy away from polarizing topics, but for Patagonia, their bold moves to address the “environmental crisis” is paying off in spades.
In a move dubbed a “fundraiser for planet earth,” Patagonia committed to donating 100 percent Black Friday sales both online and in stores globally to “grassroots organizations working in local communities to protect our air, water and soil for future generations.” You read that right – SALES, not profits. Black Friday shoppers grabbing the latest in outdoor apparel and gear helped contribute to $10 million in donations to hundreds of environmental organizations around the world.
This is just the latest example of environmental stewardship from a company that openly embraces its social advocacy role at its deepest roots, even calling itself “the activist company.” The Patagonia blog has an entire category titled “activism” covering its involvement in Fair Trade, living wage and organic farming initiatives, among other topics.
In addition to being a daring communications strategy, this embrace of a greater purpose has translated into tangible business results. According to the company blog, Patagonia expected just $2 million in Black Friday sales, only to be pleasantly surprised with a record-breaking sales volume five times that amount.
Patagonia is now expanding into the food realm with some unexpected products. Beer and buffalo jerky, anyone? True to its company purpose, Patagonia Provisions promises to address the needs for healthy soil and sustainable farming practices. The company aims to engage agriculture producers and food organizations throughout the world – not just to find and sell products, but to use its global platform to create conversations about environmental issues.
The reason Patagonia has seen positive business outcomes from their corporate responsibility efforts is likely because the company purpose is intrinsically tied to its products and customers. Environmentalism isn’t forced for Patagonia because its apparel and gear are made for outdoor enthusiasts. Customers likely place a high value on protecting Mother Earth. The shelf-stable food products of Patagonia Provisions will likely fly off the proverbial shelves because they stay true to the core customer, the kind of person more likely to be found out in the woods than at home near a refrigerator.
Brands should not fear shouting from the rooftops about issues that matter to their business. Done correctly, this move will earn a deeper trust with customers, which in turn inspires sales and brand loyalty. At NST, we help organizations of all types identify their purpose. Patagonia took the time to firmly establish its purpose, and recommits often and visibly. Thanks to their open dedication, Patagonia is reaping the benefits (not to mention saving the planet).