By Anastacia Villis
The “buy one give one” or “BOGO” model is a popular trend in the world of socially responsible business. However, each company executes the model differently, which has led to drastically different outcomes. Tom’s Shoes, for example, has exploited the model. The profits from Tom’s overpriced products go into the pockets of executives, not toward its social mission. And Tom’s impact lacks transparency, as there is not a true “need” for Tom’s Shoes in the target communities. On the other hand, Warby Parker, has shown how to correctly use the BOGO model selling glasses. The company addresses an incredibly well-researched global problem of impaired vision in communities to lack access to affordable glasses. Warby Parker sells products at a reasonable rate and are open to the public about all costs of production.
A new player has recently arrived on the BOGO stage, called Bombas Socks, a company that manufactures high quality and high fashion socks. For every pair bought, Bombas gives one pair to a homeless shelter to distribute. Their name and mission were founded on the idea of a beehive, where each individual works together to make their world better place. The mission sounds compelling, but is this new company going down the same road as Tom’s Shoes, or will it reach the standard set by Warby Parker?
One of the most significant downfalls of Tom’s is that the giveaway of so many cheaply-made shoes is actually putting local shoemakers out of business. Bombas has avoided this issue by partnering with already established local organizations to distribute socks instead of giving them directly to the homeless population. This exemplifies how the company has adopted an incredibly grassroots approach, rather than entering a community with a lack of understanding of how local organizations work or what true problems plague a community.
In fact, Bombas was founded in a very grassroots way, after thorough research was done on what homeless populations in cities actually need and want. Only with this real feedback did the founders of Bombas try and alleviate some of the struggles that this underprivileged population faces on a daily basis. Socks are actually the #1 most requested clothing item in U.S. homeless shelters, something not many would know without having conducted extensive research on the ground.
On the business side of things, Bombas proves to be an incredibly well-run company. While Tom’s products tend to be cheaply made and not designed to last long, Bombas socks are quality products that drive sales in and of themselves. Oftentimes companies rely on their social mission to attract customers; but a good, dignified business also cares about producing a valuable product as well, which Bombas has done from the start.
Even with its high-quality socks, Bombas is able to keep prices low, especially for its BOGO model, which further exemplifies its authenticity as a true social business. Most pairs of socks go for about $12, which is not a dramatic increase from the cost of production of two pairs of socks. The minimal profit earned from each sale is used to keep the business functioning rather than to benefit the ones at the top.
The characteristics of Bombas Socks has led us to believe that the company is taking after Warby Parker in the “buy one give one” social business space. The righteous intentions are exemplified in every function of the business, from the mission to actual business model. Bombas has truly done its part to make the world a better place, and encourages other social business leaders to do the same.