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How Patagonia is ‘unlocking’ the power of its community to fight the climate crisis

By September 24, 2019No Comments

Patagonia is ramping up efforts to tackle the climate crisis with the launch of an online platform that connects people with local, national and global grassroots organisations fighting to save the planet.

The platform, Patagonia Action Works, allows users to volunteer skills and time, sign petitions, discover local events and donate money to nearby causes. Environmental non-profit organisations signed up at launch include Extinction Rebellion, Save Our Rivers, Friends of the Earth, Surfers against Sewage and Rewilding Britain.

Only NGOs that Patagonia supports can sign up to the platform, which has been built to enable them to achieve their goals and objectives more effectively.

That could mean asking people to come along to events they have planned or asking for help after identifying specific or urgent need for a technical skill, such as finance, graphic design or marketing support. Volunteering opportunities will show the amount of money an NGO saved.

Users will also be able to submit “urgent” actions for social media amplification, where Patagonia’s social media team will create an audience profile and advertise that particular action on its social media profiles.

Where there is space for businesses to stand out is in direct engagement with the environmental movements.

Alex Weller, Patagonia

Each action on the platform has been allocated a cash value, which is incremental to the amount of customer engagement. For example, the value of a tweet with 40,000 engagements would be higher than one with 10,000, and legal volunteer work would be worth more than clerical volunteer work.

The effectiveness of Action Works’s budget, which is separate to the core business, will be measured against the value return for the groups.

“We track and measure all of the cash value and add to the groups to essentially chase our KPI for the year,” Patagonia’s European marketing director Alex Weller tells Marketing Week.

“The impetus is on us to put as many value-rich actions on the platform as we can and encourage as many of our customers to take advantage of those actions because that’s how we’re going to hit our KPIs.”

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The Europe-wide launch follows a successful run of the platform in North America, where half a million people have taken action to support environmental issues.

Much of the initial marketing for Action Works will be community-driven and through Patagonia’s own channels and retail stores, with Patagonia looking to “unlock” its already loyal and engaged core customer base.

“Our first focus with marketing will be talking with our existing customers. It is the most natural community we would reach out to first,” Weller says.

“We have a large community of customers, they’re the group we want to offer up this experience to first, they’re the most likely to be engaged and take advantage of it. Then we will step out and reach and talk to a wider community of people who we think might be interested.”

Patagonia’s business is built on environmental responsibility. Yet in a market full of green-washing where more and more businesses are talking about sustainability, brands with CSR at their core are having to work harder to prove their authenticity to consumers.

Where Patagonia believes it can have a point of difference is in direct engagement with environmental movements.

Last week, Patagonia closed all 107 of its stores across the world in solidarity with youth activists who are peacefully striking for climate action and demanding that governments act.

This included an ad campaign featuring photos of young activists with ‘facing extinction’ written across their faces. The campaign, which Patagonia says was a “significant ad buy”, showed up along the strike routes in selected cities, in all Patagonia retail stores, and across print, digital and social media, as well as outdoor in London and Berlin.

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“A base line requirement from customers is to see that businesses are seeing their impact, understanding it, owning it and then mitigating it, drawing it down. In that space, it will increasingly become business as usual and that’s absolutely as it should be,” Weller says.

“Where there is space for businesses to stand out is in direct engagement with the environmental movements. Whether that is about enabling your employees to join global climate strikes, directly supporting environmental action or grassroots groups, that is still a space where there are a very limited number of full profit businesses globally engaged.”

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