Patagonia’s CEO, Rose Macario, has seen sales quadruple in her last decade with the company as she pursues initiatives aligned with Patagonia’s mission. The company’s mission to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” is the basis of each business decision, staying true to Patagonia’s core values with everything they do. With the mentality that “doing good work for the planet creates new markets and makes more money,” Macario has launched successful initiatives benefiting both the earth and the bottom line.
The Worn Wear program, originally called Common Threads, celebrates the stories of customers to combat harmful consumption patterns that are ravaging the planet. Worn Wear provides resources to repair and resell clothing items, keeping gear in action longer and minimizing environmental impact. The campaign recognizes that the Patagonia gear is much more than an article of clothing that can be discarded: it is a lifetime garment packed with stories, grit, and memories. Patagonia began promoting its anti-consumerist message in 2012 with the ad pictured above saying, “do not buy this jacket” and saw their own sales increase 30% during the year to $540 million. With Worn Wear, Patagonia successfully acknowledges the importance of customer stories and shares them in a way that promotes their mission and attracts business.
ADDING VALUE TO YOUR PRODUCT WITH MISSION-BASED STORYTELLING
Rose Marcario has a call to action for Patagonia customers: to be more than a product-consumer and be a product owner. By taking ownership of their purchase, customers are empowered to take responsibility for the proper care and repair of their garments. Changing the mentality of a throw-away society that generally discards damaged items is not an easy feat. Patagonia fights this battle armed with its environmental mission and the stories provided by their customers. Repairing garments furthers Patagonia’s mission by reducing the need to buy more over time and avoiding the CO2 emissions, waste output and water usage required to build the items. To help further motivate customers to keep their items in use, Patagonia reminds them that the garments are much more than fabric stitched together. They are “the stories we wear”. Through the video series including the one below and the page featuring customer submissions on the Worn to Wear website, customer stories are promoted and shared.
The Patagonia climbing ambassador in the video, Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll says, “a piece that is full of patches and repairs has a spirit. It has a story to it!” His story along with all the others shared through the Worn Wear campaign reinforce the message that the stories we wear are worth hanging onto, repairing, and using as long as possible. Keeping items in use longer is what Marcario says is the single best thing we can do for our planet. Patagonia promotes lifelong use by working hard to make high-quality, responsibly sourced clothing that lasts for years and can be repaired while also operating the largest garment repair facility in North America. Worn Wear masterfully combines storytelling and Patagonia’s environmental mission to enhance the value of their products, drawing customers to their business.
POSITIONING PRODUCTS WITH CUSTOMER STORIES
The Worn Wear program doesn’t stop at encouraging customers to hold onto their clothing longer, it also provides a platform to resell and buy used garments. This initiative provides incentive for customers to turn in their used products in return for store credit and offers these products for sale on an ecommerce platform. Patagonia maintains that used is “better than new” as clothing is more than just something we wear. The clothes have their own story to tell and are built to last through our own adventures and the ones that came before them. Customers responded strongly to this idea and within the first six months of the ecommerce site’s launch Patagonia sold $1 million worth of used clothing.
Patagonia is a company that has found success through remaining true to its values and mission. The Worn Wear program’s use of storytelling repositions clothing in the mind of the customer from a commodity to a lifetime partner that shares in the stories and memories created in it. This not only saves the earth’s resources but has increased revenue for Patagonia with customers wanting to buy the long-lasting products both new and used. This example of customer stories enhancing the mission of the company and its economic success illuminates the power of storytelling to resonate and motivate actions within today’s market. Customers can see the value of a business that offers more than just a product and they are ready to purchase from companies that have a mission and story that they connect to.
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