Essay on Toms Company
Number of words: 970
This essay will discuss the pricing, marketing, product decisions and corporate social responsibility of the Toms company.
Introduction to the company
Toms sells shoes , eyewear, coffee and other lifestyle apparel and products, based on a firm commitment to corporate social responsibility in the form of their eyecare, clean water, safe birth and shoe donation program. Toms was established in 2006 in Santa Monica, California, and mainly retails shoes made of renewable and eco-friendly materials, alongside other lifestyle apparel and products. (Binkley, 2010)
Toms prices their products at a slight premium to other shoe and apparel competitors such as Puma and Adidas. For example, on their website, a pair of sandals costs around $75, while a pair of loafers goes between $55 to $65. This price premium is supported, however, by strong branding efforts that position Toms in a market position of a sustainable, responsible, high-quality footwear and apparel provider. Furthermore, it is important to note that for their main target audience of the youthful, middle aged, middle to upper middle class consumer, Toms still remains affordable.
The market that Toms is situated in is a highly competitive apparel and footwear market, with many established brands such as Nike, Keds, Converse, DSW and Skechers. Lower-end apparel retailers such as H&M also retail low-cost shoes. However, Toms has managed to carve out a significant market niche in the form of trendy, sustainable, eco-friendly and socially responsible footwear. To this end, Toms has managed to use cause marketing, or marketing based on a cause such as sustainable development, to great effect. (Timmerman, 2011) Toms’s products are also especially fortuitous to take advantage of a rising social and cultural trend towards socially responsible and environmentally friendly products, with consumers demanding greater ethical oversight to the products they purchase. (Binkley, 2010) Toms has also managed to use social media to great effect, through channels such as Instagram and Facebook to engage its target audience. (Roncha and Radclyffe-Thomas, 2016).
Product Decisions related to versatility of shoe line
Toms has maintained a relatively limited product line for its shoes, focusing on sandals, loafers and casual footwear, in order to maintain a strong brand identity and image, and to preserve the trendy and laid-back aesthetic design it is renowned for. Furthermore, Toms has managed to expand its product lines to include coffee, eyewear and other accessories, although its footwear and shoes remain its hallmark product.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to the integration of a firm’s operations into the larger social and environmental context, in a way that makes the company a more responsible, accountable and impactful actor in the broader community. These include charity programs, social outreach programs and sustainable development programs. Toms is a firm supporter of corporate social responsibility, as can be seen by their eyecare, clean water, safe birth and shoe donation program. (Binkley, 2010) For example, they have donated 60 million pairs of shoes to individuals in less economically developed countries since 2006, have supported safe birth services for more than 25,000 mothers, and have helped to implement sight-restoring eye operations for over 400,000 individuals since 2011 in 13 countries. (Toms, 2017) The programs are also supported by broader integrated efforts at empowering communities to be self-sufficient and healthy, as shown by Toms’s efforts to create jobs for young women, provide basic eye care training to local healthcare providers and educators, and provide clean and sustainable water systems to communities.
The CSR programmes are highly effective for three key reasons: impact, empowerment, engagement and sustainability. Foremost, Tom’s CSR programs ensure that the communities reached out to are impacted in tangible, measurable and meaningful ways. As opposed to some CSR projects, which simply involve the random or wanton allocation of resources which may not actually help communities, and are to fulfil corporate key performance indicators, Tom’s ensures that their eyecare, clean water and safer birth programs are actual communal needs, conducted in consultation and partnership with local stakeholders. Secondly, Tom’s CSR programs are empowering, and embrace an integrated approach to ensure that communities are able to be empowered beyond the simple provision of much-needed goods and services. Thirdly, Tom’s CSR programs engage both the people they are trying to help, and the people who are supporting the program, such as the shareholders and consumers. For example, the One for One bag program allows consumers to directly contribute to safer births in developing countries by buying a bag. Likewise, Toms used Instagram to bring its stakeholders together and tangibly experience the impact of their social contributions through their purchasing decisions. (Roncha and Radclyffe-Thomas, 2016). Finally, Toms conducts its CSR programs in aw ay that is sustainable, and that can continue for years to come, making Toms a valued long-term contributor to the overall well-being of the community.
Toms is clearly a strong market leader in the area of sustainable products and sustainable apparel, and did so through the use of a strong market position, effective CSR programs, and effective pricing.
Binkley, Christina. “Charity gives shoe brand extra shine.” The Wall Street Journal 1 (2010).
Herrera, Adriana, and Small Business. “Questioning the TOMS shoes model for social enterprise.” New York Times(2013).
Roncha, Ana, and Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas. “How TOMS’“one day without shoes” campaign brings stakeholders together and co-creates value for the brand using Instagram as a platform.” Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management20, no. 3 (2016): 300-321.
Timmerman, Kelsey. “The problem with TOMS shoes & its critics.” Engaged Consumer (2011).
Toms, ‘About Toms’, January 6, 2017, accessed May 3, 2019, https://www.toms.com/about-toms.
Wydick, Bruce, Elizabeth Katz, Flor Calvo, Felipe Gutierrez, and Brendan Janet. “Shoeing the Children: the impact of the TOMS Shoe donation program in rural El Salvador.” The World Bank Economic Review 32, no. 3 (2016): 727-751.