Patagonia Goes Purpose
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard announced that he is giving away his multi-billion dollar company and setting up a trust and nonprofit to fight climate change. Patagonia is an outdoor clothing and climbing company and its homepage currently shows a message from its founder:
“Earth is now our only shareholder. If we have any hope of a thriving planet—much less a business—it is going to take all of us doing what we can with the resources we have. This is what we can do.”
The note continues to talk about Patagonia’s mission of providing more sustainable goods that reduce environmental impact, and the desire to have proceeds go toward climate action and defending nature. Chouinard writes, “Instead of ‘going public,’ you could say we’re ‘going purpose.’” Now, 100% of proceeds will be divided between the Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective nonprofit organization.
Why it works
This takes corporate social responsibility (CSR) to a whole new level. We’ve talked about CSR before, noting some key benefits:
- Showing a commitment to something bigger than your brand and having positive impact
- Bolstering your brand image and increasing customer loyalty
- Boosting employee morale, increasing retention and attracting top talent
- Increasing revenue from loyal customers who want to purchase from companies that make a difference
This decision by Chouinard hits hard on every single point. It shows a commitment to something bigger than the Patagonia brand, by creating an irreversible commitment to the planet. It’s true that it’s still early, but given Patagonia’s target audience of nature enthusiasts, this will likely bolster brand image, customer loyalty and increase employee morale. It is certainly going to attract top talent, especially from those that want meaningful work and a sense of greater purpose. Finally, there will likely be a boost in sales from customers who want to support this action and a company that has embraced its purpose.
The response so far
The response to the news has been significant, as this is especially momentous for fans of the brand and, of course, its employees. As far as PR and media coverage goes, the announcement made a splash with most major news outlets covering the story. You can read stories from The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, CNN, People, Forbes and more.
Additionally, the online engagement had Patagonia trending on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn with many users commending the brand and some even declaring they want to dress head-to-toe in Patagonia.
Find your brand’s purpose
Patagonia has certainly set the bar high. This type of dedication to activism is rarely seen in the corporate world. However, it is likely to pay off in spades with the target audience and will likely attract new customers who want to purchase from a company that makes the world a better place, in this case through trying to make a positive impact on the environment. While it may feel intimidating or hard to live up to this type of CSR, there are still many ways in which companies can give back. Start by finding your brand’s purpose and then commit to making a difference.
Read the entire letter: