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Blake Mycoskie founded TOMS Shoes in the year 2006, when he realized what children in underdeveloped regions were experiencing living without shoes. He decided he wanted to make a difference in individual’s lives and created a shoe business that would donate a pair of shoes to a child in need every time a customer would purchase a pair. TOMS was rapidly growing, so Mycoskie expanded and developed new products of eyewear. Which followed the same principle as the shoes, every pair of glasses sold TOMS would use some of the money to restore the eyesight of a person in underdeveloped countries.
As long as people continue to purchase TOMS products, individuals in underdeveloped regions will be receiving the necessities they need to help live life better.
A unique key element of TOMS shoes competitive strategy is that each pair of shoes sold, the company donates a pair of shoes to children in need in underdeveloped regions, like in Argentina. Customers looking for an affordable and fashionable pair of shoes also felt good knowing their purchase helped children in need get a pair for free.
Also, the company offers their shoes at a lower price than rival’s and still uses good high-quality resources for production. Which means they are successful satisfying their customer’s needs. TOMS shoes decided that creating new product lines would attract a wide range of customers. Therefore, “TOMS started offering stylish wedges, ballet flats, and even weeding apparel in an effort to reach more customers and satisfy the special needs of current ones” (Peteraf, 2016).
Finally, their main key element to their competitive strategy is their mission; asking customers to “buy into a cause.”
TOMS shoes strategy is best described as differentiation. First, by selling shoes with their stories behind the products, they try to appear more socially aware to customers, instead of using popular athletes like their rivals use for advertising. “TOMS focused more on selling the story behind the shoe rather than product features or celebrity endorsements” (Peteraf, 2016). The story behind the shoes is based off Mycoskie’s personal experience in Argentina, and how he got to experience the children suffering living without shoes. CEO’s from competing companies, like Nike, rarely appear in the company’s advertisements. Therefore, this method of advertisement allows the customer to connect to TOMS shoes.
Also, they concentrate more on making shoes for a better tomorrow, rather than charity work. As I said before, for each pair of shoes sold, they are donating a pair to a child in an underdeveloped region. TOMS has established relationships with over 100 non-profit organizations called Giving Partners to fulfill their mission for society. Giving Partners know more about the underdeveloped regions that TOMS shoes want to help. “Cooperative giving further strengthened the TOMS brand by association with well-known and highly regarded Giving Partners” (Peteraf, 2016). Finally, instead of spending a lot of money on expanding their store, TOMS has sustained an online shop that helped the company save money and enabled it to serve a large geographical area.
They focus mainly on a niche, as the company has been successful in the high-quality footwear niche market. In addition to acting responsibly and working with a charity. Mycoskie has realized that many buyers were willing to pay more for shoes that they know will go towards charity. The company therefore began to serve specific customers at a price that was not too cheap or not too expensive.
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