Warby Parker may have a better 'buy one, give one' model
Toms Shoes popularized 'one for one' giving. Warby Parker adds training low-income local entrepreneurs to start their own businesses selling glasses at affordable prices.
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Warby Parker partners with a nonprofit called Vision Spring in order to donate their glasses abroad. Vision Spring is in tune with how local economies function and what kind of products are culturally appropriate – something that Warby Parker itself may not have the resources to know. Vision Spring receives funding and glasses from Warby Parker to train low-income local entrepreneurs to start their own businesses selling glasses at affordable prices.Skip to next paragraph
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Warby Parker uses the same “buy one, give one” strategy as Toms, which is successful at attracting consumers, but is sensitive to the impact donations have on local economies. Warby Parker and Vision Spring’s mission is to help entrepreneurs sustain a business and to create jobs – not create a dependency on unpredictable donations, which unintentionally creates economic stagnation.
As socially conscious consumers, we should reserve some skepticism for businesses that claim to do good. Transparency and randomized studies are need in order to assess their impact. A recent randomized control trial by the University of Michigan found that people who bought Vision Spring glasses earned 20 percent more, but more research is needed. It is also promising that Vision Spring is continually learning and evolving its strategy to increase its impact, as recognized by Duke's Fuqua School of Business Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship.
This partnership between a for-profit business and a nonprofit looks promising and solves some of the problems with Toms' “One for One” model.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” is what we’re told. It’s an excellent example of the ability of corporations and nonprofits to do what they do well and team up to do good. Hopefully, organizations that inform consumers – like B Corp – will make this kind of partnership more attractive.
Have you bought or would you buy Warby Parker glasses and Toms Shoes? What drew you to the brand?
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