Lisa is the EMEA Marketing Director of TOMS, the shoe company founded by Blake Mycoskie that carries social responsibility in its DNA, and has made helping people in need the heart of its business model. With extensive knowledge of marketing and brand communication and a wide career promoting social entrepreneurship, he will be present at Sustainable Brands Madrid 2018 to share her experiences and demonstrate that sustainability and business success can go hand in hand.
How can marketing help integrate sustainability and purpose into a company?
Marketing should not be the driving force of sustainability in a company, it should be an overall commitment by the business. Marketing can support the necessity of this based on being the function closest to the consumer and that shifting expectations necessitate companies to be more engaged on various points of sustainability
TOMS is a clear example of how a small social entrepreneurship initiative born with the objective of contributing to improve the world can become big and profitable. How have you achieved that goal and what role has marketing played in its social impact?
The goal has always been to use business to improve the lives of others, it’s been the driving force, combine that with the insatiable ‘can do’ attitude of an entrepreneur and you see a 12 year old business which has diversified its product line fair more successfully in a short period of time than many other more mature brands. Marketing has helped by telling the story and getting the brand out there, although we still have a ways to go.
For every pair of shoes you sell, you donate one to a child who needs it. Do you think your consumers are activists who want to improve society or who buy their shoes because they like them?
I think it’s a combination but the truth is if the product does not appeal to them then they would not buy it, the appetite to do good and finding a simple way to do it does not drive the commercial success alone.
How do you balance results orientation (profit) with such a strong social business purpose?
Our model is not based on purely profit and our impact investment is not beholden to it, our giving contribution is part of the plan and so reaching profit does become more challenging but never at the risk of our social impact.
What advice would you give to those thousands of entrepreneurs who have an idea to change the world but the difficulties they face along the way (financing, business model, etc.) do not allow them to turn it into reality?
Ask for advice, approach those who you admire and see how they broke through. In talking to social entrepreneurs it is very evident that there are consistent barriers for all and I feel it is the responsibility of those who have broken new ground to help the new generation. Also passion and ferocious appetite for change: nurture that as it will make all the difference.
Why companies that want to change the world should not miss Sustainable Brands Madrid 2018?
Because it is collective change that can effect the biggest change in the world, like-minded people to inspire one another and broaden your frame of reference.