Last week, we talked about the millennial generation, a group of teenagers and young adults who are expressive, impatient, and tech-savvy. A retail company called TOMS has found a way to reach this generation, all while making money and promoting a good cause.
TOMS started in 2006 with a hope of bringing shoes to underprivileged children globally through a unique business model. For every pair of shoes that a customer buys, TOMS donates another pair to charity. In 2011, the company expanded this model to eyeglasses. The entire brand built upon the premise that consumerism can be the same thing as altruism—a perfect appeal to the millennial generation.
Thirty-seven percent of millennials report being drawn to products that co-brand with cause campaigns where their purchase is a form of support. TOMS core demographic of buyers is the millennial female who typically lives in urban areas such as NYC, Washington D.C. or San Francisco. It’s no surprise then that the success of TOMS has always been tied closely to social media.
In the beginning, the company found interns on Craigslist, and today LinkedIn is an essential recruiting tool. Recent campaigns have featured online games, community photo sharing, and spreading the word on Twitter and Facebook about new shoe designs.
Ever since 2007, TOMS encourages customers to spend one day participating in the “One Day Without Shoes” in order to raise awareness to see how the shoeless people of the world live. Plus, it makes millennials feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. In metropolitan areas, college clubs are encouraged to promote the event.
Attracting the millennials can be tricky, but with creative new business models and a savvy use of social media, companies like TOMS can sell their product, make profit, and promote philanthropy. It’s all about being business smart, one step at a time.