It is not rare to see companies strategically sacrifice part of their profit to support social missions such as sustainability and charities. Nevertheless, it is rare to see a retail company driven purely by social mission who donates 100% of its sales revenue to three different organizations that converts money into essential support. This is the story of ch8se, who launched their campaign on indiegogo and gained traction and attraction through social media platform like Instagram.
The initiative is similar to what we have observed with TOM’s shoes. Nevertheless, ch8se’s decision appears to provide more practical support to these countries in comparison to shoes. Directly equating apparels purchased to number of trees, number of meals, and amount of clean water is certainly not a new marketing strategy; however, its undeniable effectiveness by establishing a comparison further increases its influence. What is unique here, is that in order to provide a more direct and transparent record of achievement, the company created an “impact code” for each item purchased, where consumers may directly enter the code to view the change that they have brought to people. This individualized approach further inflates the efficiency of its business foundation, and further incentivises the customer to become returning purchasers.
The design of the male and female are identical in patterns and styles, and they are classified as “simple basics” – items available in very wardrobe. In terms of the design and cut, cho8se does not seem to have an advantage, because of the limited varieties available within the product category. I personally feel that their clothes are mediocrely high-end. While the raw material exhibits quality, it does not create a sense of need for the customers, to own such piece of clothes, because a less expensive prototype or similar twin could be easily found in other stores. This may look like an over consideration, because ch8se‘s primary objective is not to become a designer stores, but a social support business. However, I still feel that the reason that people will chose to purchase such apparel will be to support social cause, rather than being driven by a desire of want and need. To me, this sounds opportunistic, and it even diminishes the effectiveness of the campaign. I tend to view that sustainability and social support should come after one’s preference, rather than acting as the primary reason of purchase, and force customers to then make a decision within the boundaries of sustainability.
Another question in consideration, is regarding the long term development of the company. ch8se is committed to do something well. Nevertheless, it appears to act more like a successful campaign rather than a social business. Sooner or later, the company will be forced to update their stock and design, because most of the people who have the money and heart to support the campaign will already made their purchase. Therefore, with long term considerations in mind, there is some planning needed to ensure the continuous success of the company.