Has the “Buy One, Give One” Marketing Buzz Faded?

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A few years back lots of entrepreneurs pitched themselves as the “Warby Parker of X.” Many of those pitches even emulated Warby’s “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program where they’d donate a pair of glasses to charity for each pair they sold. But now when someone tells me they want to be the “Warby Parker of X” it usually refers only to a vertically-integrated private label brand in a stagnant, traditional industry that tended to raise prices faster than quality — for example, Casper as the Warby Parker of Mattresses. What happened to the social good component of one for one?

Warby had this baked into its DNA, not just as a marketing gimmick — it’s even a B Corp to support this aspect of social benefit. My guess is that the other startups couldn’t make a cultural or economic argument in the same way. TOMS was the first company I recall popularizing the concept and there’s a number of other small companies which have tried similar.

Folks who’ve followed the retail sector and social benefit corps closer than I have: was one for one an idea that heated up and ran its course, or are companies today still launching with this promise?

Want more of me? I blog at www.hunterwalk.com & tweet @hunterwalk

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You’ll find me @homebrew , Seed Stage Venture Fund w @satyap . Previously made products at YouTube, Google & SecondLife. Married to @cbarlerin .

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