Toms Shoes: Ethical Marketing and Pillars of Responsibility

Toms Shoes is a for-profit company based in Playa Del Rey, California. This business was founded by Blake Mycoskie in 2006. Toms designs and sells shoes and eyewear products. For the firm to remain successful, it should maintain its commitment towards community, shareholders, employees and consumers by adhering to the six pillars of marketing. This paper evaluates Toms Shoes Company’s and its past performance in marketing its products using the pillars of marketing. In this case, the pillars to be discussed include honesty, responsibility, caring, respect, fairness, and citizenship. Further, this essay explores how this company can be a good citizen through the expansion and development of its green initiatives and other charitable commitments.

It is evident that a firm with strong business ethics sets the framework for responsible corporate policies. As Toms Shoes is one of the most respected brands, its executive leaders are renowned since they show a lot of commitment to high ethical standards. The company is well known due to its exceptional “One for One” policy (Moore, 2009). On the one hand, when the firm sells a pair of shoes, it donates another pair of shoes to underprivileged children. On the other hand, when the company sells a pair of eyewear, a certain amount of the profit is contributed for saving or restoring the eyesight for individuals in developing countries. This marketing technique gives consumers an opportunity to participate indirectly in charity by purchasing a pair of shoes. The company’s founder has been praised by world leaders for the ability to incorporate charity in Toms’s business model.


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Six Pillars of Marketing Code of Ethics

In every business, marketing is used as a powerful tool since it influences consumers’ purchasing habits. From an ethical viewpoint, it is significant that it is not used in an abusive way but only for the best interests of customers’ welfare or health (Freeman, 2000). Marketing should not be aimed at misleading consumers or convincing them to use products that can harm them.

The first pillar of marketing code of ethics is honesty. Apparently, it is a central theme of Toms’s Shoes. Marketing any material being published by the company offers a clear picture of the firm’s mission. For instance, Toms Shoes’ main web based store provides concrete information on the company’s vision and mission. This kind of honesty and openness when presenting information about the business model builds trust in the potential customers.

The second pillar is responsibility. Toms Shoes demonstrates a high standard of corporate responsibility by donating a significant portion of the company’s resources to charity. Nowadays, poverty is a common problem that faces the global economy worldwide. Thus, for Toms Shoes, the “One on One” policy shows significant success in solving this global issue.

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The ethical pillar of care also goes along with this type of charitable commitment. Caring refers to showing compassion for those who are suffering (Toms Shoes Inc., 2013). The founder of Toms Shoes got inspiration from a trip to Argentina where he witnessed individuals with severe health conditions and poverty. He also saw many children walking with bare feet. Identifying this problem and coming up with a solution to the business model is the example of the caring marketing plan.

The fourth pillar is respect. Toms Shoes Company portrays this characteristic in different ways. The business operates in a global supply chain. Some of the company’s products are manufactured in Ethiopia, China, and Argentina. Toms Shoes donates a big number of shoes to the disadvantaged in the countries mentioned above. Moreover, the company has respect for the environment, too, since it funds environmental friendly initiatives (Toms Shoes Inc., 2013). For this reason, it is evident that the business has high respect for the nature.

The fifth pillar is fairness. One of the best ways of showing fairness in marketing is not engaging in negative campaigns, especially, with competitors. With this, companies can build a good reputation that is not tarnished with negative experiences (Freeman, 2000). In all ways, Toms Shoes has never demonstrated negative marketing efforts aimed at competitors. Conversely, the company focuses its public relations discussions towards its several charitable initiatives. This is safer for the business since it prevents retaliation from bigger shoes manufacturers that have powerful marketing influence. A good example is Nike brand that is recognizable worldwide, and the level of trust it has among its customers is high. If Toms Shoes could engage Nike with negative marketing campaigns, this would result in extremely negative consequences for the two brands.

The last pillar is citizenship. From a general perspective, marketing refers to working towards the civic virtues of a society. It is the duty of every company to act for the benefits of local societies. This can be achieved by respecting the resources provided within a region and engaging its positive discussions for the benefit of the residents. Since Toms Shoes operates in different countries, it must be a good citizen to those regions. This company accomplishes this goal by its charitable acts it offers to the community publically, and also maintaining a commitment to CSR (Freeman, 2000).

Ways to Improve Ethical Practices at Toms

Even though Toms Shoes has made extraordinary efforts in practicing ethical marketing, there are still several ways how this company can improve. The brand can become a greater corporate citizen by its attempt to manufacture shoes in the United States. It is evident that the main consumers of Toms Shoes’ products are the United States residents; however, all its products are imported. If this company plans to set up a manufacturing plant domestically, this will create jobs for the country. Further, it will also improve economic conditions. However, this would cause significant costs to Toms Shoes due to the increased labor expenses (Toms Shoes Inc., 2013). Still, it will provide key civic benefits to the company’s main customer base. Focusing more on the firm’s supply chain can have a huge impact on the responsibility, citizenship and respect pillars.

Another way through which Toms Shoes can improve its ethical position is furthering its green initiatives. For the past years, the company stated that it is committed to sustainable business practices. These practices would have minimal impact on the environment. Nevertheless, there is still room for improvement. This is by implanting green energy infrastructure at its manufacturing plants that are in foreign countries. Such initiatives offer a lot of benefits to the company since it has the capability to save money on energy costs while, at the same time, improving the firms’ brand image (Toms Shoes Inc., 2013). Toms Shoes has already established a strong brand. However, this would add an extra layer of strength to the company’s overall image.

In conclusion, for the past years, Toms Shoes has been a leader in ethical business practices. Its business model for manufacturing shoes is engaging into charitable acts in every sale made. After analyzing the six pillars of marketing, it is evident that Toms Shoes Company has excelled in every pillar. In spite of the ethical success, the firm can improve its green initiatives and supply chain operations. Improvements made in all these areas will promote Toms Shoes’ mission to participate in sustainable business practices. Overall, Toms Shoes Company is a good example of a business that has brought rapid success by strongly following the code of ethical standards. All ethical firms should follow Toms Shoes Company’s example, and make sure that they utilize the six pillars of marketing for the success of their business.

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