Fast Company magazine recently named Patagonia, the outdoor apparel company as one of the world’s most innovative. What are they doing that is so innovative?
In recognizing Patagoina’s, Fast Company said,
The company clocked $500 million in 2011 sales, growing almost 30% in each of the past two years–all while setting the bar for sustainability. Patagonia got 24,000 people to pledge to buy less and buy used; it also partnered with eBay to make it easy for people to take the pledge and then buy and sell gear from one another. Customers have resold 15,000 Patagonia pieces for $500,000 so far.
This reminds me of how the amount of environmental evangelism in their catalog impacted sales. The ideal was 55% product presentation and 45% messages that helped their customers be better citizens of the world. Anymore product promotion and sales declined.
According to Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard,
Every time we’ve made a decision to do the right thing, it ends up being good for business.
There is a strong message here – what customers value and find meaningful extends beyond the utility of a product. Companies should be asking how they can cash in by being more meaningful to their customers.