At this year’s SXSW back in March, we got to see Blake Mycoskie, “Chief Shoe-Giver” of TOMS Shoes announce that TOMS would be unveiling a new product on June 7th of this year. Today, he announced that the next major world problem that TOMS would use its groundbreaking yet simple “one-for-one” business model to tackle would be vision.
TOMS eyewear, which is available today, will be sold and given away just like TOMS shoes have in the past. When customers purchase a pair of sunglasses, one person in the developing world will be “given the gift of sight.” TOMS reports that “of the nearly 284 million people in the world who are visually impaired, almost 90% live in developing countries.” Each sale will translate to either one pair of prescription glasses given away, one medical treatment (meaning fighting infection, injury, or disease), or one sight-saving surgery, like a cataract surgery.
A winning business strategy
“When you incorporate giving into your business, your customers become your marketers,” Mycoskie told a group of us last March. TOMS Shoes has been a great archetype of a profitable company with a social agenda sewn right into the thread of its business model. Customers have latched on to the company and its mission and have done more for the brand than any advertising campaign ever could.
It is hard to think of another company that has such devout brand evangelists, bright young people dreaming of jobs there, and a story that spread across the world so quickly and easily. TOMS has shown the business world that embedding social good into a company’s DNA is a winning business strategy.
What do you think about TOMS’s decision to move into eyewear? What are your favorite for-profit brands that accelerate a social agenda?