Attention to social causes and social responsibility are two big trends in the marketing environment today. It is for this reason that Tom’s Shoes, a new startup company, is off to a big start. Their entire business is organized around one concept, one-for-one giving. For every pair of shoes that are purchased, the company gives a pair of shoes to a child in need somewhere in the world.
Questions and Answers 1. What trends in the marking environment have contributed to the success of Toms Shoes? The following are just some of the more obvious answers. Students can be challenged to develop as many as possible.
Demographic forces – Toms primary target market is “young people,” specified as college and high school age. The thing that is brought up specifically about this market is that every one of these people at some point is going to buy a pair of $40 canvas shoes. This was simply recognizing an existing pattern. Economic forces – There are poor people and children throughout the world who do not have shoes. This is a basic need that needs filling. There are people throughout the world who can afford to buy those people shoes. Simple as that.
Natural forces – Blake talks about the way that shoe drop sites are selected. One of the factors is the types of diseases that are present in different areas of the world. Technological forces – “This company would not exist pre-Internet.” Blake gives details on Toms’ involvement in social networking. He also points out that much of the promotion for Toms is word-of-mouth (or “word-of-mouse) based. This has all been generated through technology.
Cultural forces – The biggest thing that should be recognized here is the trend toward the recognition and support of sustainable business practices in various forms. Blake talks about how there is a desire on the part of young people to give to others, and how that need has been denied to them in many ways because they have not been taught or given opportunities. One other major cultural force worth mentioning is the trend toward social networking. This was mentioned under technology, but it is very much a cultural force.
2. Did Toms Shoes first scan the marketing environment in creating its strategy, or did it create its strategy and fit it to the environment? Does this matter? In answering the second part of this question, there are two figures from the text can set the stage. Both are from chapter 2. Figure 2.4 illustrates that the creation and management of marketing strategy is an ongoing process without a clear beginning or end. It is a process that in some respect simultaneously manages multiple factors and steps. Figure 2.6 illustrates a more linear perspective. Certainly, there has to be some order in the strategic process.
Both of these concepts are important. For a company like Toms, there is a clear starting point because it is a very new company. To answer the first part of the question, it is rather apparent that the environment was scanned (such as it was) first. Then, not only was the strategy created, but the entire business model.
Blake Mycoskie talks about how he traveled the world and recognized the need that existed for the children of the world to be provided with a basic necessity: shoes. His desire was to give them shoes. He then created the strategy of creating a sustainable business to provide the philanthropy. Mycoskie states that the folks at Toms created their own donor by creating the company.
But as things developed at Toms, it has become apparent that recognition of certain trends helped to form and revise the strategy.