HoMie: Buy-one-give-one model, brand building with a social conscious

Homie brand

A brand that has captured my heart recently is a new clothing store in Melbourne Central called HoMie. They stock brand new clothing to sell to the public and for every piece of clothing that’s sold one piece gets donated to a person experiencing homelessness. This is another classic example of the buy-one-give-one model which has become a popular social initiative for brands. In a recent brand workshop we discussed the viability of one of our clients adopting a similar model to differentiate their brand and give consumers another reason for brand loyalty. However, it does raise the question, if more brands start to adopt this model will it continue to be effective or will it no longer be seen as a brand differentiator?The buy one give one model is quickly being adopted by many brands around the world. It’s a great initiative for brands to differentiate their brand and to give consumers a reason to choose their products or service over others. The brilliance of the buy-one-give-one model lies in its simplicity and consumers can quickly understand the contribution the brand will give to people in need whether that it a piece of pizza, pair of glasses or money towards running water.

Consumers are becoming more and more socially conscious and want to feel that they have contributed to making a difference by supporting a social cause. If they can do so with their regular buying habits then that is an added bonus. Most of the buy-one-give-one business initiatives focus on apparel and products that consumers can display to show their support and proof that they have supported a local cause by wearing shoes, backpacks, glasses and baby clothes. This ties back into people wanting to help but equally wanting people to know they have helped by displaying their generosity.

The recent opening on HoMie in Melbourne is a great example of the buy-one-give-one model. It is aimed at young people and stocks donated products from retailers including Snowgum, Cotton On, Nelson Clothing and Trend Clothing. For every piece of new clothing that is sold HoMie makes one available to a homeless person. On VIP nights, homeless shoppers can choose five items of clothing, get a free haircut, have their make-up done, have a free coffee and attend job skills workshops.

The brilliance of this model is that shoppers were going to buy clothes anyway but now they can decide to spend their money in a store that will have a knock on benefit for helping someone in need.

There are a lot of great examples of brands who have adopted the buy-one-give one model, here are some other great examples that may provide inspiration for your brand.

Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, a New York pizza shop that sells slices of pizza for only $1 and donates one slice of pizza to someone in need.

$1 pizza buy one give one

Toms – A shoe company founded in 2006, pioneered the buy-one-give-one model. For every pair of shoes that Toms sells, it donates a pair to children in a developing country, such as Malawi, Haiti, or Peru.

toms 2

World Housing – For every condominium sold at a certified World Housing project a contribution is made by the developer to build a home for a dump dweller family.

world housing

Baby Teresa – Donates baby clothing to babies in need.

buy one give one baby teresa

Warby Parker –  Donates one pair of glasses for every pair sold.

Warby Parker buy one give one

Two Degrees – Food bars, donates food bars to hungry children.

There is some criticism as to whether the model actually does anything to change the situation and address the real issues facing people in need or if its just a band aid that goes over the top of the problem. This is something that no doubt will continue to be addressed as more and more brands look to a business model that supports corporate social responsibility.

In an article published by Christopher Marquis and Andrew park in Stanford Social Innovation Review it is argues that the more companies who adopt this model the more the value will diminish as it will do longer give brands a competitive advantage. Critics have said the model it’s a marketing ploy that targets the guilty conscience of first-world citizens and it does nothing to really solve issues of poverty, and worse, that the effects of giving in this way can sometimes undermine what little economy does exist in these impoverished places.

These argument do have there merits however I think we’re a long way off this problem and would it really be such a disaster for more brands to use some of their profits to help those people less fortunate?

It’s likely that this model will evolve to take this feedback on board. Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, says he has heard the critics and is doing buy-one give-one differently now. Changes will include producing some of the product in third world countries to help their economy and create jobs and others include donating money to help with infrastructure.

We often encourage the brands that we work on to consider how their brand can go beyond their product or service offering to really connect with their audiences and stand out from other brands in the same market. While the buy-one-give-one model may not be something that your brand can adopt think about how your brand can make a difference to the world and the impact that will have on customer loyalty.

Gemma Dittmar
Director of Brand Projects

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