Patagonia: Creative Sustainability Strategy for a Reluctant Fashion Brand

Rosemary Varley , Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas , William Webb

Business Case
Source: Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases
DOI: 10.5040/9781474208796.0044
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This business strategy case revolves around the marketing activities of the outdoor apparel brand Patagonia; specifically, the clothing product category. Patagonia was founded as a performance-wear brand designed for adventurous outdoors spirits who enjoy nature and respect the environment. Developing high-performance functional products and integrating sustainability give Patagonia authenticity amongst its consumers and form the core of its business and brand identity. The socially responsible aspect of the company is highlighted in the case, both in its product offer and operations, and the distinctive management culture is touched upon. The case presents comprehensive information about marketing, advertising, and retailing activities, including the famous 2011 reverse marketing campaign when Patagonia used a full-page ad in The New York Times and implored Black Friday shoppers: “Don’t buy this jacket.” Background context and information about the company’s founding principles and business philosophy are provided for students to analyze past brand marketing strategy within the overall context of the strategic aims of the corporation. Patagonia has adopted a slow growth business model but its own success and the increasing athleisure segment offers Patagonia potential to expand internationally, and to reconsider whether its focus should be on performance or its fashion offer. The case provides an interesting company context in which to consider marketing activities, given its brand values of high quality and performance and corporate responsibility, and enables the discussion of business ethics and sustainability issues in the wider fashion industry through the detailed examination of an iconic sustainable fashion brand.

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