[CONTENT MARKETING]: How Patagonia uniquely connects with its consumers
Patagonia is a manufacturer of upscale outdoor clothing and gear for the silent sports of climbing, surfing, skiing, snowboarding, fly-fishing, trail running, and leisure winter activities. This brand, unlike many, is also known for its various sustainability efforts. Although creating a product is at the foundation of the company, Patagonia’s primary goal is to make the world a better place beyond rhetoric. After the launch of their “Don’t Buy this Jacket” advertisement in 2011, the company saw its revenues spike. So what genius strategy is this company implementing?
The Worn Wear program has a documentary that is approximately 30 minutes long featuring Patagonia consumers and their tattered apparel. The company also has a Truth to Material initiative that was turned into a short film about reclaimed wool and cotton. When taking the approach to introduce snowboarding, the company created a web series that relays an insight on outdoor sports. The brand also uses storytelling in its common media outlet-magazines. Jeff Beer, author of the blog, Behind the Brand, quotes Patagonia’s Vice President of Global Marketing, Joy Howard, when she states, “One constant that’s always been with the brand is that the catalog has always been the core marketing vehicle, with an editorial sensibility and journalistic approach to storytelling that’s ingrained in the company.”
The brand gains trust by being transparent. An example of this stems from them allowing other companies and consumers in on their secret because it ultimately benefits the environment. Howard states, “When we’re making decisions that are driven by our beliefs but very counterintuitive, that’s where we’re having a lot of success. Like trying to grow a wetsuit and giving the IP away to encourage other surf companies to use it.” She goes on to state that it hurts business but in retrospect it exhibits their values and beliefs as a company.
The brand is trying to gravitate away from just being a brand, to becoming more of a “movement”. Patagonia doesn’t just talk the talk; they prove their notions in many ways. Beer continues to say, “Patagonia works hard at being the premier tree-hugging apparel company in the world and not just a marketer selling fleece to the active affluent in Soho. It helped create a national park, its supply chain boasts fair trade certified wages, organic cotton, traceable down, and responsibly sourced merino wool.” Not only did the company become a certified benefit corporation, it has established a $20 million internal venture fund to invest in social and environmentally- responsible start-ups.
The brand seems to resonate the most with consumers who are environmentally conscious. These individuals fall into the company’s target audience. Poonkulali Thangavelu, writor for Investopedia, states, “These sorts of consumers like the idea of buying a product that is made by an environmentally friendly company in an environmentally friendly manner.” These consumers also are attracted to the idea that Patagonia products can be recycled, in which the brand goes even further by offering a service where they send an environmentally friendly truck to consumers in a bid to help them repair their outdoor gear and sell used Patagonia clothes back to them.
In essence, it may seem as if the brand Patagonia uses an anti-marketing technique to create revenue. The company uses storytelling and environmental awareness strategies to engage with their consumers. The brand is transparent with its actions and is proving that it walks the environmental talk. Based off the company’s success and positive feedback from its customers, it can be concluded that this so-called “anti-marketing strategy” seems to have the reverse effect.