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Brief Published: 19 Feb 2018

Patagonia Links Would-Be Activists to Grassroots Groups

Patagonia Action Works

Reinforcing its reputation as a bold activist brand, California-based outdoor apparel label Patagonia has launched Patagonia Action Works, a micro-site that connects consumers with grassroots environmental organisations and helps them donate, volunteer or otherwise get involved.

Over the past 35 years, Patagonia has donated nearly $90m to activist groups and trained many young activists, says founder Yvon Chouinard in a video describing the new tool. Now the company is enlisting consumers as collaborators, urging them to “Sign up. Show up. Take action”.

As detailed in Retail’s Activist Brands, an activist stance is becoming an attractive brand attribute. According to a new US and UK study by global PR group Weber Shandwick, consumers have embraced ‘buycotting’ – supporting a brand by intentionally buying from it. Eighty-three per cent of respondents (all of whom were selected for being ‘consumer activists’) agreed that “it’s more important than ever to support companies that do the right thing by buycotting”, while 59% said the same about boycotting brands. The ‘buycotters’ polled had made on average 5.7 supportive purchases over the past two years.

In recent years, Patagonia has published a book called Tools for Grassroots Activists and backed activist documentaries such as 2016’s Unbroken Ground. Last year, to protest US president Trump’s scaling back of public lands in Utah, Patagonia led a successful campaign to move the Outdoor Retailer trade show away from the state (see Stylus’ event coverage). The company declared “The president stole your land" on Instagram and its website, stating it would sue Trump’s administration (see blog).

For more on why consumers are demanding corporate activism, see Brands Take a Stand.