Monday, January 23, 2012

The Selling Point of TOMS

For Christmas I got a pair of TOMS shoes.  If you aren't familiar with TOMS, one of their advertising points is that, with every purchase, the company will donate a pair of shoes to someone in need.  It's a valiant endeavor, one that so far has resulted in over 10,000 pairs of shoes.

Here's the thing about TOMS - they're quality shoes.  I actually have two pairs, one that slides on and one laced pair.  I couldn't be happier with either.  But they can be pretty pricey, depending on your definition of pricey, upwards of $50, with some pairs even hitting a triple-digit price tag.  So how do you decide what to spend your hard-earned cash on?  Like I said, they're quality products, but there are a lot of quality products out there, so why TOMS?

That's where the charitable aspect of TOMS comes in.  When you buy a pair of TOMS, you aren't just buying yourself a pair of shoes - you're buying someone else a pair of shoes, too.  You get shoes that you want, someone gets shoes that they need, and you get to feel good about yourself.

It's definitely a selling point.  Don't be fooled, TOMS is a for-profit company.  They aren't merely doing this out of the kindness of their corporate hearts...and that's not a bad thing.  There are some cases where the ends justify the means, and if someone can turn a profit while helping those in need, why not?

There's a lot of competition out there.  When we talk about Kickstarter projects, one of the main differentiating factors is connecting with prospective customers, giving them a unique experience either through the product/service itself or with its creator/founder, but that isn't the only angle to play.  As TOMS has shown, helping others could be what separates you from others.

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