Purpose-Driven Marketing: Patagonia Uses Content to Create True Brand Advantage

How many times do you hear a retailer tell you to buy less of their stuff? Patagonia did just that in 2013 with the launch of a film called Worn Wear, which the company bills as “…an antidote to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping frenzy. Worn Wear is an invitation to celebrate the stuff you already own.”

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Worn Wear, Patagonia original film

The short film features various customers sharing stories about their pride in owning and repairing worn Patagonia items over the years. Viewers meet a charismatic surf veteran who proudly shows off a pair of Patagonia swim trunks he’s patched up over the years. A young mom shares her stories behind the items of Patagonia clothing she passes down from child to child. An organic farmer in California talks about the repairs he’s made on a light jacket and recalls the memories of past adventures and cycling mishaps that are associated with each tear. Each customer shares their pride in owning Patagonia gear and their stories behind each piece.

In our current “throw-away” society of K-Cups and individually wrapped pre-made PBJ’s—where everything is considered expendable once the next best thing comes along—Patagonia’s idea has surprisingly caught on. Two years later, the rally to repair and repurpose has evolved and gained momentum as more people share their own Worn Wear stories in the social space. Others have joined forces with Patagonia to create apps and events which allow people to swap used goods for Patagonia gift cards. And today, while they have the largest garment repair facility in North America employing 45 full-time repair techs in Reno, Nevada, Patagonia has gone even further, quite literally.

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This spring a biodiesel repair truck traveled from California to New York providing free clothing repairs, selling used Patagonia clothing and educating people on how to fix their own gear. Along the way, even more stories were captured.

As both a marketer and an avid outdoorsman, I am attracted to brands that stand for something. Let’s be honest. Good business is good business, and consumers more than ever are purchasing items that reflect their own values. I have three children and any second I get to myself, I’m out hunting or fly fishing. I take comfort in knowing that with my decision to purchase from Patagonia, I am also buying into the greater idea of supporting a more sustainable lifestyle, and one that helps protect wildlife habitat for my kids to enjoy. And because I’m a father, I know all too well the joys of repairing clothing. Looking through my young son’s closet I am almost convinced that his favorite pastime is sliding around on sandpaper. Like others, I can relate to the stories being shared in the Worn Wear campaign. Because it is a reflection of my own values, I identify with the Patagonia lifestyle and I buy their goods.

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Whether its Under Armour’s incredible efforts to support military veterans or Costa Del Mar’s conservation efforts to research and preserve fish and habitat, some of the fastest growing brands focus on things that are greater than just the bottom line. Good business is good business, and brands will be much more successful if they can find causes that they truly believe in to champion.

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