The Broken “Buy-One, Give-One” Model: 3 Ways To Save Toms Shoes
Written by: Cheryl Davenport via FastCoExist
(Illustration via GOOD)

Toms has built a popular brand around the buy-one, give-one model. But two critical flaws in that model threaten to undo its social impact and business successes.
Today, April 10, thousands of people will go barefoot around the world for the second annual “One Day Without Shoes.” It’s an event organized by Toms Shoes—the company that built a brand around the buy-one-give-one charity model—to raise awareness about the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child’s life.
But the day will also shine a light on the Toms model, which is facing two existential flaws that threaten to undo the company’s social impact and business success.
First, the Toms buy-one-give-one model does not actually solve a social problem. Rather, the charitable act of donating a free pair of shoes serves as little more than a short-term fix in a system in need of long-term, multi-faceted economic development, health, sanitation, and education solutions.
The second flaw: From a business perspective, Toms is at risk. Our research with leading consumer-facing companies has shown that there is a finite and unpredictable market for the feel good value proposition—consumers are fickle when it comes to committing to brands based on nonfunctional attributes. Toms’s core value to its customers is being replicated by an increasing number of companies who can promise the exact same return: feeling good about your purchase. Without a stronger, more differentiated and less replicable product offering, Toms will likely fall out of fashion in the coming years.
Continue to full story at – I’d also encourage everyone to read the comments and participate in the discussion directly below the original piece at There’s some excellent points being articulated on both sides of the One for One debate.