Values over Value: What brands can learn from Patagonia

By Joe Partridge - 15th December 2016

Now I’ll admit, I very rarely get involved in “hype”, but when a colleague told me that she was going to a Patagonia sales event where they were recycling clothes and all the proceeds were going towards environmental organisations, I was in.

Now, anyone who has ever made an event on Facebook will know that when 100 people say they’re coming, you can usually expect about 5 to turn up. But I’m fairly certain that all 1,500 people who said they were attending the Patagonia event actually came… and brought friends.

So let’s just put this into perspective: hundreds of people queuing up in the freezing cold to buy second hand clothes all in the name of a good brand and a good cause.

It’s everywhere at the moment that “millennials” as we are now known, prefer brands that align with their views, and are willing to invest in those that go beyond just a product. Now, whilst I can’t stand the word, the crowd that turned out would probably have slotted into the millennial category very well, and this event was first hand proof of the above. By the time I actually got in (two and half hours later!), the room was stripped bare and the team there were left gobsmacked by the turnout.

I’ve read some more around Patagonia’s actions over the Black Friday weekend, and not only did they send all profits from this event to sustainable charities, they donated ALL their profits from Black Friday to these groups.

But what is perhaps most shocking of all is what this did for their sales over the weekend. Originally, Patagonia had expected to reap in $2million in sales, but by the time it was over, they had fetched $10 million! With thousands of first time customers being drawn to the brand as a result of their environmental values.

This just goes to show that consumers are willing to invest in brands who go beyond the basic provision of a good product. So whilst Patagonia themselves may not have made mega bucks over the weekend, they did a good thing for the environment. They also aligned themselves with the beliefs of millions of outdoor enthusiasts and attracted thousands of new customers to their products.

Yes, I’m sure that many people who queued up last week were hoping to score a cheap down jacket. But they had also bought into the philosophy that Patagonia were promoting, and were looking to make a positive impact with their purchase. Personally, I hope we see more brands adopting these kinds of tactics in the years to come.

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