TOMS emerged into the footwear market in May of 2006. The brand grew in popularity as founder Blake Mycoskie presented the business model of one-for-one. This model promised that with every retail sale of the shoe a pair of free shoes would be given to a child in need. Countries involved in the campaign included Argentina, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Rwanda and South Africa.
The CEO of TOMS, Magnus Wedhammer, said in an interview to Footwear News that the company has given away “over 100 million shoes in the first 14 years, and I’m even more energized about being a part of the second chapter of TOMS.”
To celebrate the company turning 15-years-old, TOMS released a new campaign in which they will invest one-third of their profits in grassroot efforts. Their website further defines these non-profit groups as “organizations creating change at a local level, and driving progress from the ground up.”
The Chief Impact and Strategy Officer Amy Smith said in an interview with Forbes, “We are in business to improve lives. That simple mission will never change. We envision a more equitable world, one where all people have a chance to thrive.” The TOMS mission is clear: by purchasing their shoes, the company will donate money to those in need.
The TOMS website further outlines in the impact section the goals of their new grassroots campaign. The sections are divided as: What is grassroots good?, Why invest in grassroots efforts? and Our areas of focus. The website spotlights grassroots good as “efforts which are highly effective because they’re led by members of the community.” Evidently, this section also reveals that these groups often lack access to financial resources, which is how TOMS will provide support.
TOMS is focusing on helping groups that are placing advancement in areas of mental health, ending gun violence and growing access to opportunity.
Smith said to Forbes that TOMS approaches non-profit organizations by “ask[ing] questions like “What are the issues facing this community? How can we support you? What do you need most?” TOMS is passionate in solidifying a partnership that will go beyond just monetary value and as stated on their website is creating two-way partnerships.
The company is also rebranding itself with hopes that this campaign will reach Gen-Z consumers who are socially-conscious and willing to invest in businesses that promote a greater message.
Ian Stewart, the Chief Marketing Officer of TOMS, explained in an interview with Forbes how the company was able to reconstruct their brand. Stewart said they worked with the New York-based marketing agency Red Antler that “revamp[ed] everything from our logo to creative direction and styling.” Stewart also credits the agency for celebrating the company’s recognizable symbol, and explains the efforts of the company to “update the energy to our iconic alpargata.”
According to yahoo.news, TOMS invisions having a “diverse collective of brand ambassadors” and future collaborations with companies like West Elm and Paper Source. The company most recently partnered with Future Stitch–a California-based textile and tech company. Together the two companies are working to create and distribute a new sock line.
TOMS is optimistic that these new improvements will benefit the future and boost sales. Do you remember purchasing your first pair of TOMS? Have you noticed this new campaign? What are your thoughts? Let us know @txadpr!