Patagonia: Commercialization and Consumption: Economic
When it comes to Patagonia’s customer base, there is an increasing dichotomy between the social groups purchasing their products. After commercialization projects like the 2011 Black Friday advertisement, on one hand their ethical consumers are buying carefully out of necessity and willingness to support a company with clear motives, while binge shoppers are buying Patagonia products out of a “want”-driven style agenda. Socially, the dichotomy is easy to witness. Economically, the occurrence is backed by statistics. According to Business Week, after The New York Times “buy less” ad campaign, Patagonia sales increased almost one-third, to $543 million, as the company opened 14 more stores. And in 2012, revenue ticked up another 6 percent, to $575 million. In short, the pitch helped crank out $158 million worth of new apparel. Estimations carry Patagonia revenue upwards to an increase of 15% per year.
These numbers seem fairly polar of the advertisements’ aims. Is the company just feigning opposition to capitalism? Yvon Choinard, the company’s founder and CEO, says that the revenue born from these advertisements come from customers that are wanting to be part of the environmental movement that Patagonia offers. But it could fill consumers with pseudo-ethical feelings. Primarily, customers are not changing their morals by purchasing products. There must be another step. This is where Patagonia employs their “pledges”, like the Common Threads Partnership, in which they aim to foster a community of conscious consumers. If customers are willing to stick to the consumption tactics that Patagonia models, there might end up being true change in the economic system of global consumption.
In light, the company is headed down the right path. In fact, 41,377 used Patagonia items have been sold through the Common Threads storefront on eBay. And according to their website, post-consumption statistics show that 26,078 pieces have been repaired since January 2012, and 56.6 tons of Patagonia wear has been recycled since July 2005.
So as long as the PLNU Sustainability Department and like-minded organizations are willing to take care of their products, invest in fixing them when they are broken, and recycle them when their wearable life has ended, the corporate responsibility of Patagonia can be honored, and the brand will continue to see economic and social success all the way from production, to commercialization, to distribution, to expiration.