Advertising Strategies and Lessons


Buy One Gift One Marketing Strategies Evolve As Needs Shift

July 21, 2020 Sarah Cavill

The implementation of buy one gift one purpose-driven marketing campaigns from retailers is helping brands recalibrate during the disruption of Covid-19. Many brands have evolved and updated their buy one gift one programs, with some brands introducing campaigns that help frontline medical workers in light of recent events. 

Consumers Want To Leverage Their Purchases To Help People In Need

A recent eMarketer podcast revealed that consumers are two-thirds more likely to buy a new product if it includes a donation to someone in need, with Generation X the most moved by this kind of promotion. Remarking on the trend, Eric Haggstrom, Forecasting Analyst at Insider Intelligence, said “restores my faith in humanity. Charity through capitalism I love it.” 

Toms, An Early Buy One Gift One Innovator, Has Recently Evolved Their Donation Strategy

Toms shoes was one of the most high-profile and early adopters of buy one gift one, or “One for One” as Toms called it. So it was big retail news in the fall when Toms sunsetted their one-for-one program. The popular program was replaced with donations of grants given by the Toms Global Giving Fund. Toms now donates a third of net profits from each shoe sale, or $1 for each $3 spent by a customer.

The donation still kicks in when a shopper buys a pair of shoes, honoring the concept of buy one gift one, despite the shift in the manner of giving. “We made the decision to decouple our impact from the One for One model we pioneered, and to expand our giving portfolio to include impact grants. This way, we can support organizations working to address some of today’s most pressing issues. As you can imagine, we didn’t make this decision lightly. But, we’re motivated by the opportunity to have meaningful impact in some new issues areas — areas that are important to us, and to you,” said Amy Smith, Chief Strategy & Impact Officer at Toms, in the Toms 2019 Global Impact Report

Recently, the shoe brand pivoted their Global Giving Fund to be entirely Covid-19 focused, with all donations going to Toms charitable partners on the frontlines during the pandemic. 

Warby Parker Buy A Pair, Give A Pair Program Offers Training And Eyeglasses 

Shutterstock_1420207253 African Female doctor looking through Operating microscope equipment with face mask Cape Town South Africa.

One of the criticisms of buy one gift one programs is that donating goods doesn’t always offer long-term solutions or integrate well with existing charities on the ground where donations are being made. Warby Parker solved for that by offering donations of eyeglasses with purchases, primarily to school children in the U.S., and also training men and women in under-served areas around the world to administer vision exams and sell glasses at “ultra-affordable” prices. Warby Parker’s programs have, in many cases, given much-needed glasses to adults for the first time in their lives. 

During Covid-19, Warby Parker has changed some aspects of their giving model to meet the healthcare needs of their global partners: “While we continue to fund glasses distribution where we can without compromising the health of our partners or the community, we’ve decided to temporarily shift the majority of our efforts to prioritize public health and safety. Right now, we are responding to the immediate needs of our longest-standing partner, VisionSpring, to protect healthcare workers and slow Covid-19 transmission in high-risk communities where they work — principally in India, Bangladesh and sub-Saharan Africa.” The majority of recent Warby Parker buy one gift one donations has gone to providing PPE and prevention supplies. 

Fleet Feet Partners With Feetures To Donate Socks To First Responders

Fleet Feet Partners With Feetures To Donate Socks To First Responders

Fleet Feet, a brand committed to a number of social responsibility initiatives, partnered with sock brand Feetures for a buy one gift one program that provides socks to medical professionals in select regions throughout the U.S. Running Insights reported, “Building off of Fleet Feet’s charitable arm, Do the Run Thing, they came up with a program that would support both medical professionals on the frontline and Fleet Feet stores who, like almost all small and locally owned businesses, have had to drastically alter operations over the past month. Through the Buy One, Gift One program, customers can place Feetures sock orders for curbside pick-up at their local Fleet Feet store and Feetures will match their purchase with a donation to medical professionals in select regions, up to 20,000 pairs.” 

Another sock brand, Bombas, also has a buy one gift one program, with donations going to homeless shelters around the country. According to the Bombas website, “Bombas has donated over 30 million clothing items through more than 3,000 Giving Partners across the country.”

During a time when several international crises are converging to make business difficult for many brands and exposing great need across communities and industries, purpose-driven marketing strategies are gaining traction. And, evolving, thoughtful buy one gift one programs can be an effective way for brands to amplify their social responsibility and still keep an eye on the bottom line. 

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Associate Content Manager, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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