What You Can Learn from Patagonia’s Radical Move

Patagonia, the high-end outdoor apparel and gear retailer, generated a “record-breaking” $10 million in Black Friday sales––five times the amount it had initially projected––and has announced it will donate every cent of those profits to nonprofits focused on protecting and saving the environment.”*

Think about what you just read! The company announced in advance of Black Friday that it would be donating all of their profits from the most profitable day of the year to environmental causes. 

Patagonia’s radical actions affirmed the organization’s purpose and grew the numbers of raving Patagonia fans. Here are the immediate benefits we saw following this bold move:

  1. Customers were not just delighted. They were blown away!  Customers are wildly crazy about the commitment Patagonia made to express their core belief in preserving and enriching the environment.
  2. Patagonia again took a step toward their legendary narrative and mission. “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to solve our environmental crisis.”
  3. People are talking about Patagonia all over the internet with admiration and applause. They’ve gained a whole new audience for their products.
  4. Employees and the owner are more than delighted at the response by their customers. They are exhilarated and excited to give that money away!  

Patagonia, Inc. President and CEO Rose Marcario wrote in response, “The enormous love our customers showed to the planet on Black Friday enables us to give every penny to hundreds of grassroots environmental organizations working around the world.”

Building out a narrative for your company that captures not only making great products but also your commitment to building a better world requires unusual acts of courage, kindness, and boldness. The Black Friday decision by Patagonia came out of a brainstorming session by the senior team on new ways to raise money for their environmental causes.  

What can other executive learn from this? Give away all of your profits on Black Friday? Not exactly. The real take away is to challenge yourself to think about your business in new ways. 

  • What story do you want people to remember about your organization?
  • What will you be known for that goes beyond your product or service to encompass your commitment to building a better world?  
  • What actions can you take that will inspire and excite your employees and customers?

This kind of thinking will expand your lens and help you generate ideas that can create raving fans.  

Living out a company purpose requires continual, innovative engagement at the top.  It’s not just a nice to do.  It’s a must do.  A great leader keeps return to mission and purpose as their touchstone, as a basis for all they do. 

Once you are clear on the mark you want to make and the story you want to tell – and that story is authentically from the heart – you can begin to find startling ways to make it real with creative acts of kindness.

And then your raving fans will be telling others about that act of kindness a thousand times over. Your radical move will become legendary.

* Quote taken from Second Nexus article by Alan Jude Ryland