I saw this ad and it stopped me cold. At first glance, I thought it meant that people were luxury shopping AS a fulfilling purpose in life. “Wow,” I thought, “with the chasm between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ growing larger every day and the societal ramifications of that, this feels wrong.”
Intrigued (and not wanting to be off-base in this blog post), I visited the company’s website and learned that my first impression was mistaken. The company sells luxury items and then donates 20% of the proceeds to worthwhile organizations that support girls. The last line of their intro video says, “Your choice of where to shop matters.” Another video says, “Improve the lives of children around the world by buying what you love.” In the video, the Olivela founder seems sincere, and I’m pretty confident that she is. Certainly, it’s a much more authentic version of, for example, car dealers who say, “for every (name the brand) sold, we’ll donate $200 to (name the charity).”
But this whole trend of building a business based on the differentiation strategy of donating money – money spent by customers – really gives me pause.
I asked myself, why don’t I like it?
My conclusion is this… it’s the direct tie of donations to sales.
Contrast the above example to a company like Patagonia. Patagonia’s mission-driven approach (supporting environmental causes) is different because Patagonia doesn’t conditionally tie its good work to sales. While Patagonia can of course conduct environmental efforts because of its customers, this is not its sales strategy.