TOMS’ Chief Digital Officer Outlines Brand’s ‘Giving’ Formula

Toms Shoes Periodic TablesArgentina’s loss in the World Cup final may have hit one company personally. A 2006 group trip giving shoes to Argentine children inspired Blake Mycoskie to launch TOMS, or “tomorrow’s shoes”. For the brand’s logo, he borrowed light blue and white stripes from the Argentine flag.

“TOMS is based on giving shoes in a sustainable way, on a one-to-one basis”, said its chief digital officer, Zita Cassizzi. She was referring to their M.O. – for every pair of TOMS shoes a customer buys, the company gives a pair to a child in need. While presenting at ANA’s Digital & Social Media Conference, she also discussed TOMS’ expansion to eyewear and coffee.

Cassizzi outlined TOMS’ omni channel marketing strategy, with 5 online and offline elements:

1. Connecting with the community:

“Current and potential customers, mostly millennials, expect an immediate connection from the company”, she said. The brand favors digital vs. traditional marketing. “We rely on digital, word of mouth and ‘mocial’, or mobile and social”.

Other touchpoints are unique to TOMS’ approach. For their “giving trips”, they partner with NGOs, and select employees venture to places like Crimea, to visit orphanages and schools. The focus isn’t all global, as TOMS now “gives” shoes in the U.S., too. TOMS has opened retail locations in L.A. and Austin, with more in the works, “to add another community connection”.

2. Offering multidimensional content:

“We deliver products and services, so our content should be relevant and have value, both extrinsic and intrinsic”, she said. “At our stores you feel like you’re on a giving trip”. Toms also hosts contests where consumers submit videos and photos describing what inspires them, and top vote-getters go on giving trips.

3. Building customer relationships for life:

“We establish a tone as a best friend, one who’s humble and honest, and we provide inspirational quotes”, she said. “We also focus on service and imbue our brand values in all our efforts”.

4. Continuing the conversation:

“TOMS’ social media cycle involves listening, reaching out and adapting the conversation accordingly”, she explained. The brand also engages in the offline space by hosting campus clubs and community events. And TOMS rallies customers through action, with an annual ‘one day without shoes’, calling attention to the plight of the shoeless.

5. Creating a culture of innovation:

“This is our internal focus that’s crucial for effectively serving millennials: testing, trials and fast thinking,” she said. Examples abound, like adding eyewear and coffee to TOMS’ product mix. Here the brand’s giving includes eye exams and supporting local water needs in coffee-producing countries.

A partnership with eBay in San Francisco involved searchable, shoppable store windows. Then at TOMS marketplace in November, the brand curated 30 social entrepreneurs selling products like scarves and soccer balls. So overall it’s a diverse global approach with distinct local roots.