Patagonia is an anomaly among apparel companies worldwide. While others have continued to reap great profits with little care for the consequences of their actions, they have chosen to walk a different path. Since their inception in 1973, their unique mission has been there for all to see. This article looks into Patagonia’s mission and how they intend to accomplish it through their vision/core value.
What Is Patagonia’s Mission Statement?
Patagonia mission statement is “We’re in business to save our home planet”
While intriguing and befitting their sustainability focus, the mission statement doesn’t necessarily address its specific product offerings. They are an apparel company, among several others that are larger and have longer histories to refer to. But they have built their brand around the overall impact of their business model. One that cares for our home planet better than most others. The statement immediately connects with anyone who comes across it, as it speaks to united humanity looking to protect its home better. And while they do not have a published vision statement, the company does have its set of ‘core values’ that correspond to the mission.
Patagonia’s core values
- Build the best product
- Cause no unnecessary harm
- Use business to protect nature
- Not bound by convention
It is also honest as they do not claim only to be doing good. They speak to the world’s informed and educated population, to those who understand the reality of climate change and sustainability practices. It is no coincidence that the brand has won over many fans with its mission and core values, regardless of whether they like the products or not. They try to convey that they are an intelligent and caring brand for people who carry those same attributes. And it has surely served them well so far.
How Well Do They Comply With Their Mission?
Having a good mission statement is only a small part of the whole story. The statement only holds value if the company’s actions are in line with it. For Patagonia, complying with their unique and ambitious statement is easier said than done. It requires effort on all fronts, from raw materials procurement to marketing and post-sales efforts.
To understand their level of compliance with the mission statement and core values, we need to take a deeper look at their business activities. Actions matter more than words in this case, and with a brand of their size, their actions are always under the scrutiny of many. Since the mission itself is executed through their core values, this article will understand how they ensure these values apply to their business activities.
Build The Best Product
The first core value for the brand is ‘build the best product.’ Any product being the ‘best’ is likely to be a subjective opinion. To some, ‘best’ may represent something entirely different from what it means to Patagonia. The subjective nature of this core value does make verifying it challenging.
For Patagonia, this could mean a combination of factors. Factors ranging from the quality of the product to its durability and ability to endure stress. The brand encourages its customers to use their products during adventures, owing to their efforts to make them more durable than the alternatives. While achieving this durability does come with other caveats, such as high prices, it aligns with their vision and values.
The consensus of customer reviews on their products tells us that they succeed in making their products durable. Durability is essential as it leads to less waste as products go to waste in a short period of time. They promote repairing their products as well, a choice made possible by the high-quality materials used in production.
Their products are often reviewed to be of high quality, although there are some concerns over their high prices. While there is some strong competition for Patagonia’s products from companies like The North Face, their products do hold up well in comparison.
Overall, it is clear that they do make a considerable effort to comply with their first core value. But building the best product is difficult. This difficulty is especially apparent for a brand like Patagonia trying to do as little harm to the environment as possible.
Cause No Unnecessary Harm
Their sustainability focus is especially evident in this core value. They understand that it is unavoidable to cause some amount of harm to the environment in any business activity. It speaks to the honest approach that they do not claim to be entirely free of blame. They respect the intelligence of people, customers, or otherwise in crafting this value. This promises to do as little harm as possible and not sacrifice the environment in favor of lower prices and costs.
They make an effort to do better by using organic cotton to reduce the use of chemical pesticides harmful to the environment. While this is easier to sustain for a relatively smaller brand like Patagonia, it does provide a strong example for larger companies to follow. As they grow in size, their ability to continue using organic cotton only is likely to be under considerable scrutiny as the volume of production gathers even greater importance.
They also limit the use of dyes in their clothing, a necessary step that reduces a significant amount of unnecessary pollution of natural resources. Chemical dyes and their products have long been a major source of pollution. One that had been accepted by many as a necessary evil. However, the brand chooses to challenge this by using as little of it as possible.
Additionally, they have also taken steps to use more efficient lighting in their stores, reducing their carbon footprint. The company has even pledged to become carbon-neutral by 2025, an ambitious goal that, if realized, will challenge many businesses to do the same. They also implement considerable use of recycled material in their production in their bid to reduce trash. This particular decision is also in line with their third core value.
Use Business To Protect Nature
They designed their business model around doing what’s better for the planet. Their strategies, ranging from areas like production to marketing to the company’s growth, all have the common focus of being in business to protect the planet. With their investments into areas like regenerative organic agriculture, they put their business’s success to good use.
The decision to implement significant use of recycled material is an awe-inspiring one. The company claims that 68% of its line uses recycled material. While certainly a figure inflated by cases where only a little recycled material is used for each product, it is nonetheless impressive. They also claim to have kept 35 tons of plastic waste out of the ocean by turning fishing nets into hat brims. While that figure on its own is unlikely to change the fate of the world’s oceans, it does have the potential for a more indirect impact.
They are trying to lead the industry in how well they implement sustainable practices. More often than not, their affinity towards trying new and inventive ways to protect the environment better provides a blueprint for other companies to rely upon. This is also evident in their fourth core value.
Not Bound By Convention
They intend not to be bound by convention. Convention was formed through years of practice. And that doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice. Patagonia intends to challenge the convention. They only grow organic cotton for use in their line. An unconventional choice that makes their products cost more but leaves a smaller negative impact on the environment. While companies have often looked for ways to increase agriculture output to reduce costs, Patagonia has chosen the contrasting approach.
Deciding to go carbon-neutral by 2025 is a brave choice. And likely an expensive one. But it is certainly in line with their mission and values. They choose not to wait and follow others after it has become the industry standard. With the increasing awareness of sustainability, corporations will soon have no choice but to alter their activities to become entirely carbon-neutral. However, the few who have chosen to do it not out of regulation but out of morality and values will hold a distinct advantage. An advantage they can surely put to good use through strong marketing for their products in the US and other countries around the world. They are already on track to reaching this goal, with 100% of their energy requirements in North America met by renewable sources.
Another area where they challenged all conventions in the industry is with their ‘Worn Wear’ campaign. Promoting the purchase and sale of used products to keep them in use is an unusual one. It is certainly one that fits the identity and targets of Patagonia. With their promise of durability in their products and the promotion of buying used products, they have taken an approach that most companies would not dare take. It does not improve their sales, not directly at least. And it is easy to discard this move as ill-advised or to think that it is destined to hurt them rather than help them.
However, it could also be argued that the move is a brilliant plan that will help the brand in the long run. One of the biggest barriers to using their products for many consumers is their products’ high prices. While many had become fans of the brand due to its sustainability focus, most could not afford it or were unwilling to spend on expensive products they hadn’t tried before.
The ‘Worn Wear’ campaign changes exactly that. It gives Patagonia products access to a large segment of people who had previously been unable to gain it. The campaign works in two key ways. It helps emphasize the brand’s mission to protect the planet through business. It also gains a brand-new group of consumers who, after using these products, are now more willing than ever to purchase their products.
Does it work for the brand? Absolutely
To answer the earlier question – how well do they comply with their mission?
Quite well, actually. They have actively taken steps to comply with it, especially with their core values providing the necessary vision in making it a reality.
To sum, Patagonia engages in the following activities in its effort to accomplish its objectives:
- Durable products
- High-quality materials
- Use of organically grown cotton
- Limiting the use of chemical dye
- Using renewable energy
- Pledging to become carbon-neutral by 2025
- Sustainability-focused overall strategy.
- Investment into regenerative organic agriculture
- Using plastic waste to recycle and produce goods
- Fairtrade practices
- Repairing products to reduce trash
- ‘Worn Wear’ campaign to promote used goods
- Pledging 1% of sales to the preservation of the natural environment
Why does this matter?
Patagonia’s mission and vision (core values) are representative of its whole brand identity. One that speaks to and acts intending to adopt better practices in business. Practices that are better equipped to preserve and protect the natural environment of our beloved home planet.
When the company was formed in 1973, it was very much an ambitious goal. One that would not have resonated with many. However, with the increasing awareness of climate change and companies’ focus on adopting better practices in their business, Patagonia’s principles have become more relevant than ever.
They are now considered industry leaders. Not in product design or branding or anything of that ilk. But in providing a blueprint for other businesses, apparel makers, or otherwise, to follow. While even Patagonia itself has some room for improvement by their own admittance, their decision to do what they can is one that must be taken by many other companies as well. And their mission and core values have no small part to play in that.