Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Badski's Consumer Report - Toms Shoes

Badski's Consumer Report - Today I watched a show I DVR'd about two months ago called The Entrepreneurs. The show airs on CNBC and features two cool entrepreneurs each in a short half hour segment. I have seen it before but when I watched it today there was one brand that caught my attention. That brand is Toms shoes.

Toms shoes has a simple mantra; one for one. For every pair of shoes that is purchased the company donates a pair of shoes to a child in need of shoes. This socially conscious business model is something I have become very interested in lately. The concept is very appealing to me. The business raises money for charity that wouldn't have been raised otherwise and they are rewarded with business and profit from people who are seeking a simple way to make a difference. To me this is the way of business in the future. It almost serves as a competitive advantage to give some of your money to a worthy cause as there is a certain buzz around your product or service that traditional companies just don't have. I think the younger generations embrace this concept more so than previous generations and I look forward to hopefully creating a socially conscious for profit of my own some day (I am currently working on my first non profit).

In 2006 an American traveler, Blake Mycoskie, befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created a company that would match every pair of shoes sold with a pair given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by caring TOMS customers.

Since our beginning, TOMS has given over 140,000* pairs of shoes to children in need through the One for One model. Because of your support, TOMS plans to give over 300,000 pairs of shoes to children in need around the world in 2009.

Our ongoing community events and Shoe Drop Tours allow TOMS supporters and enthusiasts to be part of our One for One movement. Join us.

Mycoskie explained in the feature I watched how they use very little advertising to further their brand. They rely heavily on their story to spread and through celebrity endorsements. Having read a few Seth Godin books lately (see Personal MBA Updates), I can tell that Mycoskie gets it. He is a proven entrepreneur and with Toms he is a living how to guide for the new era of business. He has created a tribe, a movement to spread his story. Yeah his shoes are cool and they are based on the native shoe design of the very people he started out helping in Argentina, but people can get shoes anywhere. He has created a movement, even calling it such on their website. Their shoe drop tours allow consumers to help deliver shoes to needy kids. Not only do they deliver they shoes, every shoe is placed on the feet of those children. That is commitment to a cause; that is a movement. He has laid out a vision for the future, taken the lead, and empowered others to spread the word. What the company does not spend in advertising allows them to carry out their one for one mantra and still remain profitable. Their story is remarkable and therefore it will spread. Mycoskie gets it. Still don't believe me? Check out the video below and you will see why this isn't a shoe company, but a movement.

Although this isn't the typical Badski Consumer Report, I felt I had to showcase an excellent business model that is the embodiment of many of the lessons I have been reading about lately in my personal education quest. I plan to purchase my first pair of Toms in the next week or so, but even more powerful than purchasing shoes is spreading the word about a great idea. Hopefully my soon to be unveiled non profit venture can emulate some of what the Toms movement has created. Hopefully our story will create a movement.

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