Patagonia's approach to values

Outdoor apparel company Patagonia appears to break the rules of how consumer goods companies approach marketing, profit, and consumer communications. Despite this--or because of it--the company is a success story, tripling its profitability and doubling in size over the past few years.

Some examples of Patagonia's unorthodox approach include:

  • Running Black Friday advertising saying "don't buy this jacket"
  • Sharing (certain) innovations with competitors
  • Using company funds to support (potentially polarizing) issues the company believes in

Rose Marcario, Patagonia's CEO, was interviewed by Fast Company this month and the conversation turned to these apparent paradoxes. Marcario's response centered on the companies values: since its founding, Patagonia has placed value on the quality and durability of its products and a respect for the planet and the environment. By making a durable product, backed by a full guarantee, customers don't need to buy as much, reducing the overall environmental impact. Mercario believes that customers seek out Patagonia because they know what the company stands for. She also notes that the company has more freedom to express its values due to its private ownership.

Being a private company really gives you a lot of ability to express yourself and not be confined by this mentality that profit has primacy over all things."

Of course, Patagonia is not the largest (or most affordable) outdoor apparel brand, but we find Ms. Marcario's perspective interesting in that she seems to be describing her company's take on quality, responsibility, freedom, and mutuality. What do you think?

-- Clara Shen

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