Inside Patagonia Brand Values and Communication

THEDIGITALHACKS

A neuromarketing analysis of the American brand that is on a mission to change the apparel industry while saving the planet.

In the era of digitalization, of the 2.0 marketing, of the extreme consumerism, there are still those who manage to make a successful business while maintaining moral values ​​in favour of social and environmental well-being.

In this article, we are kine to analyze the Patagonia case study, the American brand on a mission to save the planet by trying to revolutionize the apparel industry.

“Going back to a simpler life based on living by sufficiency rather than excess is not a step backward.” – The Next Hundred Years

Listening to the many interviews of its founder Yvon Chouinard, the company’s mission is easily understandable.

Make quality, durable products while helping to save the planet and breaking down the fast fashion industry.

Even so, what is pretty amazing is how this idea is constant, effective and homogeneous in every action and communication of the firm. The company is completely shaped by the ideals and interests of its founder.

Inside this article, we dive into the history of the brand through the words of its creator Yvon Chouinard, we analyze the communication together with the target audience, and above all, we create an interconnection between the “Buy Less, Demand More” campaign with the study of implicit memory within the neuromarketing’s field.

The text will be articulated with the following structure:

  • History of Patagonia.
  • The Social Mission of the Company.
  • “Buy Less, Demand More” Campaign Analysis.
  • Interconnection of the campaign with learning and implicit memory.

So, what are we waiting for?
Let’s start the journey inside Patagonia’s Universe.

patagonia 1

History of Patagonia.

Yvon Chounard is the creator of Patagonia. It all started when he started as a climber at the age of 14 in 1953 in Southern California.
He made his first creations out of handcrafted chrome-moly steel pythons that served as climbing tools. He achieved very good quality in them. Word soon spread and demand increased. As it exceeded its manual production capacity, it had to invest in tools and machinery that increased its production scale to meet the increasing demand. So, in 1965, he teamed up with Tom Frost, an aeronautical engineer and climber.
By the 1970s Chouinard Equipment had become the most renowned climbing equipment company in America.
The climbing routes were always the same and Chouinard’s pythons needed small hammer blows to fix and remove the pieces from the rocks.
This fact deteriorated the mountains, so its creators understood that it damaged the natural ecosystem, since the deformations were pronounced. So they decided to get out of the climbing python business. This event represented the first great step in favor of the environment. Undoubtedly, it meant a commercial risk, but its creators understood it necessary and carried it out. They decided to start in the field of outdoor sportswear. It was a reality that outdoor sportswear did not have much differentiation in design and colors. All the offer available in the market was quite homogeneous.

Gray, khaki, military colors abounded. In this way, they understood that their innovation could be well received by the public who was looking for a little more color and different designs when practicing outdoor sports.

And so it arises: Patagonia, the guiding principle of its design came from Antoine de Saint Exupéry, the French aviator: “Have you ever stopped to think not only about the plane, but about all the elements that man builds, all those that Are they the result of man’s industrial efforts, all calculations, every night spent working on currents and projects, which invariably culminate in the production of an object whose only guiding principle is the ultimate principle of simplicity? (Patagonia, s.f.)

The Social Mission of the Company

In the book Marketing for Sustainability, we can find that sustainable development is based on “ensuring that economic growth does not ultimately end up causing its own demise, since its consequences lead to serious environmental or social crises.” (Peattie. Belz. Galí, 2013)

Patagonia has been characterized by taking a position and developing business strategies based on the principles established by its founder, developing good quality products while becoming more environmentally friendly, its mission based on “working to save the world”.

They have a strategy based on “5R”:

a. REDUCE short-term purchases.

b. REPAIR damaged garments and thus avoid discarding them.

c. REUSE what you already have to reduce the consumption of new clothes.

d. RECYCLE what is no longer used and make it new.

e. REIMAGINE a sustainable world.

Although their mission a few years ago could be branded as romantic and not very credible, over the years their actions demonstrated that it is a purpose that defines them as actors in the textile industry, positioning themselves as leaders and opinion makers around to the theme of sustainability and ethical business.

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patag
www.patagonia.com

“Buy Less, Demand More” Campaign Analysis.

Taking as a base the fragment of “Tierra de Hombres” by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, idol of the creator of Patagonia, we note a great conceptual affinity of the selected campaign with the message transmitted in it.

Antoine de Saint Exupéry proposes through the stripping of unnecessary elements to reach perfection and evolution.

“It is as if there was a natural law that ordered that, to achieve this goal or to refine the curve of a piece of furniture, the keel of a ship or the fuselage of an airplane until, gradually, it becomes part of the elemental purity of the curve of the bosom or shoulder of the human being, it was necessary that there be the experimentation of several generations of craftsmen.

In any element, finally, perfection is achieved when there is nothing more to remove, when an element has been stripped of everything, and not when there is nothing more to add ”. (Patagonia, s.f.)

“You have the power to change the way clothes are made.” | www.patagonia.com

buy less demand more

As a fundamental basis to explain the campaign that is being carried out in
this moment, we remember an action carried out by the brand 9 years ago. In that At the moment, fewer industry players raised these issues. Patagonia published an entire page in The New York Times, the same day as Black Friday that it said “Don’t buy this jacket”.

At that time from Patatgonia they felt that as actors in the textile industry they should take action on the unbridled consumerism that resulted in the generation of great negative impacts on the planet. They understood that to lighten the footprint on the planet and seek its sustainability over time, we should change the habits of mass consumption and they felt the need to act. “Customers should think twice before buying” as mentioned on their website. And “companies must produce better quality items.”

This ad was scheduled on the day with the highest consumption in the United States, Black Friday, and in the newspaper with the highest reading and circulation. Without a doubt, an unprecedented action.

9 years later, the BUY LESS, DEMAND MORE campaign emerged.

It is a campaign that discourages irresponsible consumption, promotes a change in the habit in people seeking to consume only necessary products, quality products that last for years, products that can be repaired, reused and given away to increase their durability over time.

Due to its unique and differentiating character, this campaign stands out within the textile market.
It raises the standards of a good buyer or a responsible buyer where it establishes a series of questions to be asked before buying a good.

By educating buyers they seek to sow a culture of responsible textile consumption.

Its website has a large volume of educational content on the subject. From the approach to the problem of the impact of the textile industry on the planet, to how to demand quality of raw materials, fair production models, recycling of materials, among other things to take into account when buying clothes.

This educational, transgressive, impactful campaign seeks to unite dispersed agents of change. It generates involvement with the communities due to the relevance of the subject.

Buy Less Demand More – YouTube Spot

In turn, due to its quality of “going against the grain” of the textile industry and its communications that what they promote is uncontrolled consumption under “Black Friday” offers, and of acquiring “the last of the season”, makes this brand and this campaign are more differentiating and therefore increase your chance of being remembered.

The constancy and consistency in its history and communication make it credible and generates fanaticism and brand love.

Interconnection of the campaign with learning and implicit memory.

In Patagonia’s campaign “Buy Less, Demand More” there are multiple applications of what was defined in the modern era of implicit learning and memory. We must first clarify the subtle difference between the two concepts.

Learning is the process through which humans and animals acquire knowledge about the environment that surrounds us.
Memory would be the individual’s ability to retain and use information in different ways and at different times.

In this sense, learning can be unconscious, that is, the person can take information without fully realizing it and then develop a more inclined attitude towards a brand / product that induced this stimulus.

In the case of the analyzed campaign; For example, a person in favor of the environment and lover of extreme sports, if unconsciously subjected to an advertisement of this type from Patagonia, without knowing the brand, probably in the future facing a purchase decision about one of their products would be more inclined to buy them; without rationally knowing the values and corporate vision that it sponsors.

Surely in those who are part of the brand’s target audience and have been exposed to its communications for years, this campaign will penetrate the implicit memory and promote a change in habit that will become permanent over time.

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Download the full Patagonia Whitepaper Case Study for free 👉 HERE

Perhaps without realizing it, without being able to declare it, unconsciously, modify the way in which they buy, inform themselves, adopt and promote conversations in their environment or on their social networks that, if they had not been exposed to the campaign, they might not do so.

First of all, it is worth noting that today we know that memory consists of the interplay of a complex and sophisticated group of brain systems. Therefore, there are no permanent archived images and our memory is always active to receive an endless stream of perceptions. Memory has finally been defined under the following characteristics: Not literal, active, flexible, adaptive, dynamic, subjective, which reinterprets, forgets and makes mistakes.

Memory must also be considered under two more classifications: short and long term, and explicit and implicit. In support of the analysis presented, it is important to persist in examining the role of:

Implicit memory, (which are all those memories that cannot be consciously rescued); since this type of memory in the case of the commercial “Buy Less, Demand More” plays an essential component in awakening memories in the mind of the user related both to their experiences with respect to the environment and the preservation of the planet, as well as with sports extremes and contact with nature. Learning is the process by which humans and animals acquire knowledge about the environment that surrounds us.

Memory would be the individual’s ability to retain and use information in different ways and at different times.
In this sense, learning can be unconscious, that is, the person can take information without fully realizing it and then develop a more inclined attitude towards a brand / product that induced this stimulus.
In the case of the analyzed campaign; For example, a person in favor of the environment and lover of extreme sports, if unconsciously submits to an advertisement for this type from Patagonia, without knowing the brand, probably in the future facing a purchase decision about one of their products it would be more inclined to buy them; without rationally knowing the values and corporate vision that it sponsors.

Surely in those who are part of the brand’s target audience and have been exposed to its communications for years, this campaign will penetrate the implicit memory and promote a change in habits that will become permanent over time. Perhaps without realizing it, without being able to declare it, unconsciously, modify the way they buy, inform themselves, adopt and promote conversations in their environment or on their social networks that, had they not been exposed to the campaign, they could not do so.

The impact on long-term memory. It is interesting to highlight how in an extreme case, an impersonation of the user in the characters and scenes of the ad can lead in the long term to a mutation of memories associated with similar experiences; to create a distorted memory, which fuses elements and moulds itself, in the user’s head, to the image and likeness of what is staged by the brand. In this sense, it is worth highlighting the influence of advertising sponsors within society and, therefore, of the decisions and actions of us citizens.

It is estimated that our memory retains more than 10,000 brands (Franzen and Bauan 2001) that we know, that we love, that we hate, that we accumulate as experiences and that we associate some fragments of their advertisements with experiences that we have lived.

For the brand, it is very important to create implicit learning in the minds of its consumers since it is not conscious and if automatic, that is, to ensure that its buyers obtain positive rewards not only financially by reducing the value of their products with long duration, but to ensure that people acquire more than a product, acquire knowledge and motivation for the conservation of the environment.

As we mentioned, this campaign and the brand have steadily generated mental structures within the minds of consumers and potential consumers, activating their implicit memory.

As mentioned in the article: Learning and implicit memory: mechanisms and neuroplasticity, “(…) the formation of this type of memory requires lasting changes in synaptic connections and is acquired through practice and repetition of the facts that they must be learned, leading to long-term learning ”. Therefore, every brand communication, including this campaign, is consistent with brand values and it does not surprise consumers that the brand is communicating in this way, but rather it reinforces its purpose.

The brain regions responsible for this type of learning and memory are: the caudate nucleus (innervated by the substantia nigra) and the cerebellum. Simple forms of implicit learning produce alterations in the efficiency of synaptic transmission.

In turn, this campaign evokes emotion when remembering typical family episodes in which a mother / father discourages the purchase of a good by questioning whether this good is really necessary, making us think twice before buying. The same fact that Patagonia wants to provoke with its messages “Don’t buy this jacket.” In this way, as Antonio Damasio mentions, emotions are activated in decision-making, explained in his Somatic Marker Hypothesis. Thus, the speech of the “Buy less” campaign reminds me of my mom or dad and therefore generates an emotional bond with the brand, positioning itself in the place of someone who teaches me and wants the best for me.

Based on the article “The hypothesis of the somatic marker and the IGT: Neural bases of decision making” we know that the evidence collected to date indicates that there are various structures that make up the neural circuit that underlies the generation of somatic markers, as proposed by HMS (…). The amygdala and the COF and CPFVM are critical structures for the generation of somatic markers, although the amygdala seems to play a fundamental role in the appearance of SD based on emotional events, while the COF / CPFVM generates them especially in situations that require the use of memory, knowledge and cognitions.”


Antonio Damasio at TED TALKS

This article is just an abstract of our case study conducted from a neuromarketing perspective on the Patagonia brand and communication. If you like this article and would like to dive deeper into the subject we suggest downloading the Patagonia whitepaper HERE

Thanks for reading!

Authors:

  • Laura Aldomá Beltrán
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