Toms / Toms Marketplace
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Buy-one-give-one brand makes shopping for socially minded brands easier
One of the first brands to pioneer the buy-one-give-one model, Toms, is branching out into the area of socially conscious curation. This week, the footwear brand launched Toms Marketplace, a new online shopping platform featuring more than 200 different products from 30 socially minded companies and entrepreneurs. Each item is tied to one or more cause, such as children, education, health, job creation, nutrition and water.
Each item in the Marketplace, which is hosted on the Toms website, benefits the causes in different ways. For each $325 Pure Fix bicycle sold, for example, $100 is donated to charity:water. Each Lucas backpack purchase supports a child's education in Tanzania.
The companies included in Toms Marketplace, according to the brand, were all 'hand-picked by the Toms team following a multi-step interview process that included a review of both the companies' business practices and their giving philosophies'. They range in size from small startups to established companies and are all dedicating to improving people's lives worldwide.
The Marketplace is highlighted on the Toms website homepage, and customers can shop by cause, region or brand. Additionally, there are image-heavy pages for sections like jewellery, apparel, tech and more. Shopping pages are interspersed with content describing the Marketplace brands, regions and causes in detail.
Toms is clearly in a great position to shine a light on social entrepreneurs. For one, Toms is a social enterprise itself, donating shoes and eyeglasses around the world for each pair sold. Social purpose is a core brand value that has underwritten Toms' business since day one. It's interesting that Toms has opted to go outside of its own walls to bring in smaller retailers with similar social purposes. Plenty of similar sites have popped up in recent years - Roozt and UncommonGoods to name just two - but none with the name-recognition and brand power of Toms.
It's unclear how the financials of the Marketplace work out, but presumably Toms gets a small cut of sales in return for showcasing the brands. 'For so long, we were forced to believe that the only way to make the world a better place was through charity and traditional non profits,' Toms founder Blake Mycoskie told VentureBeat. 'Businesses can play a role in creating more social good, and people want to help. It is exciting for them to make purchasing decisions with more purpose.'
In addition to the trend of Purposeful Brands, the Toms Marketplace also plays into the growing trend of visually focused online shopping and commerce curation. We've recently seen eBay make moves in that direction with its Collections feature and curated eBay Today feature, which put more emphasis on the visual display of curated products endorsed by eBay users. In many ways, Toms has made a similar move and tacked social purpose on top of everything. With purpose increasingly important to shoppers and the holidays fast approaching, it's a smart way for the retailer to branch out beyond the shoes and eyewear lines that comprise its core business.
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