Category winner: TOMS Shoes: The Buy-one-give-one Social Enterprise Business Model

This case won the Ethics and Social Responsibility category at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2020. #CaseAwards2020

Presentation of the trophy for the Ethics and Social Responsibility category 2020
Ethics and Social Responsibility

Celebrating the win

Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we were unable to present Natascha in person with her trophy for winning the Ethics and Social Responsibility category 2020 with Ana.

Even though we couldn't make it to Natascha, her trophy did!

We are delighted to celebrate Natascha’s win by sharing this picture of her and her award - congratulations Natascha!

Discover more about Natascha and Ana’s winning case on TOMS Shoes below.

Find out more about the Case Awards here.

 
The case

Who – the protagonist

Blake Mycoskie, TOMS founder.

What?

TOMS is a privately-held for-profit social enterprise. For every pair of shoes TOMS sells, it donates another.

TOMS logoWhy?

Despite the positive associations with the TOMS brand, and the success of its social enterprise, TOMS has faced repeated criticism of its business model.

Critics maintain that TOMS provides a short-term fix that simultaneously distorts local markets whilst assuaging Western consumers’ guilt at economic imbalance. TOMS is accused of being complicit in a business model that relies on poverty in order to maintain its business operations.

When?

It was 2006 when Blake visited Argentina. But it was 2011 when he was presenting a keynote speech at SXSW in Texas, US, and about to respond to the critics.

Where?

TOMS is based in California, US, but Blake was inspired by a trip to Argentina, where he witnessed a charity drop for shoeless children. This is where he pledged to reconfigure the volunteers’ shoe drop activities into a for-profit that could provide a constant supply of shoes for donation.

Blake MycoskieKey quote

“TOMS is an idea for a better tomorrow.” – Blake Mycoskie describing TOMS’ mission.

What next?

Blake was ready to respond to the critics and answer concerns about the business model that have been asked since 2007. What he was about to reveal would change the business massively. So, what would his answer be?

 
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TOMS Shoes: The Buy-One-Give-One Social Enterprise Business Model
Ref 717-0007-1

Teaching note
Ref 717-0007-8

The authors

Ayelet Israeli and Jill Avery

Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas and Ana Roncha

Natascha and Ana discuss students’ interest in this case and writing about a topic you’re passionate about.

Gratifying

Natascha said: “It is enormously gratifying to win such a prestigious award. Something that started as a case you’ve researched, written and taught in your own personal teaching context, is being taught and discussed in classes around the world, is a fantastic thought.”

Global interest

Organic clothesAna commented: “Currently, there is a very strong focus on sustainability in the fashion industry, and social enterprises appear as a very valid alternative in terms of business models. It is amazing to see that more and more students across business schools all over the world are interested in the case.”

Framing the narrative

Natascha added: “We both found the one-for-one business model fascinating when we first came across it, so it was interesting to find out more about TOMS by asking ourselves the whats, hows and whys of the business, and then the challenge came as how to frame a narrative that would capture students’ imagination and put them right at the centre of the case.”

Writing in a bookImmerse yourself in the case

Ana explained: “Writing about a topic you are passionate about is key. I think when you are immersed in it, it helps to unpack and to translate all of that knowledge into the case.

“I would also say, as much as possible, do a lot of field and primary research about the brand. It helps to understand the context and the company a lot better.

“Furthermore, I think that because we had experience of teaching with case studies, we could see what angles and questions would work better.”

Development

Natascha concluded: “This was the very first case that Ana and I wrote, and we never imagined it would be so popular.

“We had both been on The Case Centre’s case method workshops. I highly recommend attending one if you have a chance, as it really brings the process to life.”

About the authors

Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas is Professor of Marketing and Sustainable Business at the British School of Fashion, Glasgow Caledonian University London.
e nra4@gcu.ac.uk
tw @fashionnatascha

Ana Roncha is the Course Director of the MA Strategic Fashion Marketing at London College of Fashion.
e a.roncha@fashion.arts.ac.uk
tw @anaroncha

 

View all the 2020 winners