Forbes - Leadership

Companies Embracing Buy-One-Give-One Strategies: LifeStraw

The world of embedded giving was rocked recently by the announcement that TOMS had walked away from its strategy of giving away a pair of shoes for each one it sells. This is the second in a series of posts sharing responses from firms deeply engaged in the buy-one-give-one (BOGO) model about the future of this purpose-focused approach.

LifeStraw (safe drinking water products) Tara Lundy, Chief Brand Officer

How does the BOGO model work at LifeStraw?

For every product sold, a child in need receives safe water for a year. We are careful to distinguish that this is not a traditional BOGO in that we don’t use the same products for our give back program, rather we design products best suited for the communities and contexts in which we work. The other important distinction is that we don’t just give product, we have invested in a full program to ensure education, training, follow-up, local staff support and minimum 5 year commitments in every school where we work.

With the background of TOMS’ move, are you planning to stick with the BOGO model?  What do you see as the ongoing social and business benefits to that approach?

We are planning to stick with our current model because we believe it is important to communicate to customers a very clear and tangibly transparent impact related to their purchase. That’s not to say that as a company we are not also involved in broader responsibility work as well, from disaster response, to carbon neutrality to social justice. I think it is important for customers to see as a value-driven company that we are multi-dimensional. So it’s really about doing both – allowing customer purchase decisions to drive a tangible give back program and then also standing up as a value-driven brand to do what’s right for people and planet.


How important do you think your BOGO concept is to your consumers?

I think it makes them feel good about their purchase. It may not be their only purchase driver but we see constant positive messages from customers that they are proud to have contributed to doing good via their purchase. I also think it really drives brand loyalty – we make the same give back promise for every product sold – even replacement filters.

Anything else on this topic that you’d like to add?

I think any company involved in any type of tangible give back needs to make sure it is both core to their company competencies and values but also that the give back component makes sense for the communities being reached and that they can transparently track where those investments are going and to whom and if they are making a difference. That is what separates the marketing gimmick from a brand truly invested in creating positive impact.

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