Outdoor outfitter Patagonia launched a campaign earlier this fall encouraging consumers to buy its products used rather than new. And on Cyber Monday, the company’s online store delivers that same message loud and clear.On its homepage, the brand displays “Don’t Buy This Jacket” in huge letters, instead asking shoppers to take a pledge to cut down on consumption. An email newsletter to customers implores them to rethink purchases on what’s hailed as the biggest online shopping day of the year (via Utne Reader).
Part of the newsletter reads:
Because Patagonia wants to be in business for a good long time — and leave a world inhabitable for our kids — we want to do the opposite of every other business today. We ask you to buy less and to reflect before you spend a dime on this jacket or anything else.
Environmental bankruptcy, as with corporate bankruptcy, can happen very slowly, then all of a sudden. This is what we face unless we slow down, then reverse the damage.
A demonstrated commitment to sustainability is sure to win over the minds of certain consumers, particularly those interested in Patagonia in the first place. After all, the outfitter caters to outdoorsy types who are typically the most eco-conscious among us. But if they’re actively encouraging shoppers to curb spending, will the favourable PR outweigh a potential hit to the bottom line?
The short answer? Maybe.
First, Patagonia’s innovative message will resonate with a certain segment of consumers. They’ll look to Patagonia over competing brands because they support the company’s ardent loyalty to its values. That could conceivably boost sales — a counterintuitive, but entirely possible, win for a brand asking customers to shy away from spending.
Second, as Harvard Business Review’s Eric Lowett points out, there’s a subtle undertone to Patagonia’s reuse effort that tells customers its products are high-quality — think: they’re so durable, they’re reusable. It’s that latent message in the otherwise altruistic campaign that will both resonate with consumers looking for high-end apparel and allow Patagonia to boost its prices.
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