The Broken “Buy-One, Give-One” Model: 3 Ways To Save Toms Shoes
First, the Toms buy-one-give-one model does not actually solve a social problem. Rather, the charitable act of donating a free pair of shoes serves as little more than a short-term fix in a system in need of long-term, multi-faceted economic development, health, sanitation, and education solutions.
“What’s wrong with giving away shoes?” you might be thinking. “At least they’re doing something.” The problem, we’ve learned, is when that “something” can do more harm than good.
An article summarizing my issues with such companies like Toms and Warby Parker. These buy one give one marketing ploys do more harm to the places they’re trying to help by providing them with products they don’t need and undercutting their local markets with freeware.
I won’t deny their fashion, but truth is “It’s designed to make western consumers feel good.”
Maybe a better business model for these companies might be to use proceeds towards investing in something that provides long-term benefits, doesn’t hurt local economies, and is in great need. Just because they sell shoes/eyewear/whatever, doesn’t mean their donations need to reflect that. As unglamorous as it sounds, money goes much further and doesn’t require a shipping crate, space for sorting, and volunteers to organize and hand out tons of products that people can already get locally.