tomsshoesHere is a great gift idea if you are searching during the holiday season – Toms Shoes. Founded by Blake Mycoskie, Toms Shoes is a for profit company. Their business model is very simple: For every pair of shoes you buy, they give a pair away to a child in need around the world. This business was launched in 2006 and has already turned a profit and demonstrated that their philanthropic business model is a success. The idea of the business is very simple and was started after Mycosckie vacationed in Argentina and recognized the need for kids who did not have shoes.

The marketing strategy for Toms is very different than any other clothing or shoe company. Because of the nature of the business which involves giving, Toms Shoes is marketed very well by word-of-mouth advertising. Everyone who buys a pair and wears them is likely to share the story of their business model and promote the company (similar to this very article). Because of the power of word-of-mouth, Toms shoes has been able to spend a significantly less amount of money in traditional advertising (such as television, magazines, radio, etc.). This has allowed Toms to keep their products at a relatively affordable cost as well as to cover the cost of the pair of shoes that they are giving away.

The shoes are sold exclusively through their online store and are a very unique Argentinean style. The unique style further adds to their word-of-mouth approach because they commonly become the center piece of conversation for someone who has never seen a pair.


There have been other components to the success in this charity mixed with commerce marketing approach. Ralph Lauren has partnered with Toms Shoes because of their giving to design a pair of Toms Shoes, something he has never done before, yet has incredible marketing power. Additionally AT&T ran a commercial that featured Mycosckie and his story while promoting the wireless network that works around the world.

Visit the Toms Shoes Web site to learn more about their story or watch this interview between Mycoskie and President Clinton on the business model that has become a huge success.

Here are some interesting facts that support the need for kids shoes in third world countries:

  • In many countries kids without shoes are unable to attend school.
  • Walking is often times the primary source of transportation and kids often walk miles a day to get food.
  • Foot diseases spread very easily and have become a large problem in places like Ethiopia.
  • Wearing shoes prevents feet from getting cuts and sores on unsafe roads and from contaminated soil.

7 thoughts on “Philanthropy Goes A Long Way In Marketing

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