Triple bottom line retail
Cool towns are all about local indie businesses, and that’s why it’s important to listen to author Katya Andresen’s message in her book, Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy To Sell Just Causes. You may not want to live among a herd of national chains, but it’s wise to learn from them since they spend so much on market research and innovation.
One such business is Nau. Speaking of robin hood marketing, more than half of Nau comes from Patagonia, a long-time triple bottom line company. Rather than repeat Nau’s marketing slogans, here’s their triple bottom line approach:
– The retail space is green building LEED-certified and prefabricated with reusable fixtures.
– Customers can try clothes on in the store, then use in-store kiosks to order them at 10% discounts and free shipping, cutting building space (and energy costs) by nearly half.
– It’s fabric research is ‘open source’ to allow its competitors to benefit from and improve its environmental impact, and only using 100% certified organic cotton and wool and recycled/recyclable synthetics.
– Customers choose which charity 5% of their purchase will go to. The industry standard on the high end is 1%.
– Minimum required age for overseas factory workers.
– The stores feature speakers on socially-conscious topics.
– Because they do such a great job of fulfilling the other two bottom lines, they’ve established a loyal and fast-growing customer base.
They also focus on a creative class market, witnessed by their fashionable, yet high performance biker shirt for women. Read more about them in Fast Company.
At the very least, Nau provides its customers with a unique status-driving story with each experience, as one observer noted, The place feels like a cocktail party”. Here’s one story for you – Nau’s founder Eric Reynolds originally registered the company as UTW, which stands for “unf–k the world.”
This might just be a bit of an oversimplification.
First, I wouldn’t call NAU a retail brand, but perhaps an etail/retail blend–or bricks and clicks, as their business model relies in large part on an online consumer strategy.
Second, you have the essence of their bottom line drivers here, but there is much more behind each. For example, their materials story is comprehensive and quite amazing–that an outdoor clothing brand could entirely reinvent the way clothes are made is extraordinary. I believe they use “no virgin petroleum” at all, which makes Patagonia itself seem somewhat old-world. If you are a believer in “peak oil”, this is a great advance. Also, I suspect their labor practises are more progressive than solely age considerations.
In closing, I might just add that the separation of the 3 bottom lines, while providing a thankfully bite-sized simplification of the concepts, is actually more complicated, and the intertwining of the three is comprehensive–for example, their partners for change, or charities, incorporate almost equally, organizations with environmental and social orientation.
Still, thank you for noting this great company’s brazen approach to business as usual in retail, and far beyond.
Well said, and I can always add more to the entry.
Now it’s up to the local indies to provide such stories of their own, thus taking the 3BL benchmark one step higher. Or at least be willing to learn from such firms, especially since they’re willing to teach.