When TOMS shoes hit the market in 2006, the company quickly became the poster child for the buy-one-give-one social impact model. The company then made headlines again in 2011, expanding its "one-for-one" concept to a new line of eyeglasses. Now TOMS aims to broaden its social impact net exponentially, this time by bringing a handful of social entrepreneurs under its wing.
This week, TOMS launched TOMS Marketplace, an online store where socially conscious consumers can buy a range of products all with a cause component. Instead of producing these products in-house, TOMS has partnered with a group of companies all sharing complementary social good missions. The microsite features an array of 200 products from 30 different companies, with items ranging from bracelets to bags to bikes. Shoppers can search for products by cause, region or brand, allowing consumers to target their dollars to an issue or area that's important to them. For further clarity, each product page features a cause and region icon, as well as information on the company and its founders for easy social impact browsing. Although the site is kicking off just in time for holiday shoppers, TOMS plans for the microsite to be a permanent addition, changing products for each new shopping season.
Although TOMS has been the brunt of criticisms in the past, the company has proactively worked to address concerns, announcing earlier this year it would plan to manufacture one-third of its shoes in the same countries it donates its shoes. Now the company has taken another leap forward, this time helping out fledgling social good companies along the way. By lending its brand halo and marketing budget to these social entrepreneurs, TOMS can push more products and in turn allow these companies to make an even bigger impact for the causes they support.