Sevenly Takes ‘Do Good’ Approach to Building Business

Discussion
Jan 25, 2012

Cause marketing to the power of seven. That’s the hook of Sevenly, a California start-up that sells t-shirts and hoodies for periods of seven days and donates $7 (30 percent) of each sale to seven causes including anti-poverty, anti-slavery, clean water, disaster aid, hunger relief, medical missions and miscellaneous aid.

Today on Sevenly.com, consumers can spend $22 to purchase a t-shirt with $7 going to clothe children in Bolivia via Clothes4Souls. The page points out that a single t-shirt purchase will provide clothing for seven kids.

Dale Partridge, chief world changer at Sevenly, told the Los Angeles Times, “It’s a great number. We just happened to be able to break down the world’s greatest issues into seven causes, seven days in a week, etc. It had tons of parallel brand play.”

The company relies upon word of mouth, primarily via social media, to expand its reach. Sevenly just announced today that it completed its most successful seven-day sales event last week with $22,000 raised for Autism Speaks.

“The success of last week’s campaign is really a testament to how many of our fans and supporters are spreading the word about us through their social networks,” Mr. Partridge said in a statement. “Without them sharing this with all their friends we wouldn’t be able to raise this much in just a week. We are super grateful for that support and glad to see so many people getting involved. The model makes it simple because if they can’t afford to buy a shirt each week then they can at least help spread the word to their friends.”

Discussion Questions: Will will see an explosion in the number of do-good firms such Sevenly and TOMS in the years to come? Is this a business model that has scalability to the masses or will it remain a niche?

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12 Comments on "Sevenly Takes ‘Do Good’ Approach to Building Business"

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David Livingston
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

I don’t think we will see an explosion because we have already had these kinds of businesses around for years. The Girl Scouts sell cookies. The high school band sells candy. Boy Scouts sell Christmas wreaths. Unless Sevenly can sell a very compelling t-shirt, they won’t be in business long. There is plenty of competition in the do-good business.

David Biernbaum
BrainTrust

I’m bullish on cause marketing but only to the degree that the product is able to show how the cause benefits from retail sales in a way that would be completely incremental to what the cause would otherwise raise in funds.

Warren Thayer
BrainTrust

Well, it sure beats “9-9-9.” But I’m glad to see “anything that helps” succeed. I hope it remains niche. Once it becomes “scalable to the masses,” it won’t be cool, and this little trend-let will be over.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

I must say, I’ve gotten very bullish on this conscious capitalism thing. And I’ll also say even us doddering Baby Boomers would like to see more philanthropy and a bit less greed. Who said “The purpose of a corporation is to maximize shareholder wealth”? Maybe it should also be to add value to all its stakeholders.

I think this is a great way for retailers to give back to the communities they serve.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

It all depends on what happens to the general economy. Affluent people can afford to be charitable while people whose homes are being foreclosed are selling the tee-shirts they have at yard sales.

I also think most cause marketing is, by its nature, niche marketing since so many “causies” want to distance themselves from mass movements to begin with.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

I do not see an explosion of similar firms. However, there has been evidence that young people believe in causes and spend money for those causes. It is an interesting way to combine the interest in supporting causes with selling products to make money. This is effective for one consumer segment. Other products or other approaches will be more effective with other consumer segments. The same approach does not work for all segments, but the idea of combining charitable giving with product purchase can be replicated.

Bill Hanifin
BrainTrust

I don’t think we need to see an explosion in the number of cause related businesses for this to become a trend. There only need be a handful of sincerely planned and well executed efforts to serve the needs of the Millennial generation and others who care about the linkage between corporate activity and social consciousness.

I do think that an element of social cause thinking will permeate the broader market and that we will see social giving (ala KULA Causes and others) become a mainstream part of the marketing mix for top brands worldwide.

This is a great concept and I would not be surprised if they achieved notoriety similar to Kiva.

Mike Capizzi
Guest
Mike Capizzi
5 years 9 months ago

The model is viable, encouraging and will scale further as generational and cultural differences accelerate. Sevenly, TOMS and other innovative firms like Valoramas.com, are focusing on the collective power of social movements, social networks and old fashioned business sense. Commerce with a purpose will always succeed.

Verlin Youd
BrainTrust

I have to recognize Paula for early recognition and sharing thought leadership around Conscious Capitalism.

Both the “boomer” population and generation X and Y seem to be more predisposed at this time to value businesses who give something back. I have to believe that this will be used in creating marketing around specific programs to specific causes, and like products causes can appeal to broad or narrow customer segments.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Just curious … where do they source their shirts??? Does anyone know?

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
5 years 9 months ago
Collect ’em all! This could explode. Just one appearance of one shirt on a show like “Two And A Half Men” could send Sevenly into seventh heaven. Or, it could wither away for lack of energy. Either way, something more than social networking must be added to the marketing mix. Allow me to demur regarding the attractiveness of Conscious Capitalism. This is a fashion play, plain and simple. The supposed altruism included in the sales pitch qualifies it for big tax breaks and even eventual tax-free, non-profit status. Who knows what the long-plan is? The “.org” address is no accident. Regarding the metrics of the business model, short-run printing of the shirts limits economies of scale – unless they are set up to print them themselves. If these shirts become collectibles, look for ebay auctions. And, you can be sure that Sevenly has access to the mailing lists of all of the charities they support, giving them the ability to appeal directly to members and supporters with shirts that say “I belong.” They’ll wear them to rallies and meetings as badges of honor and, seven weeks later, they can buy a new design! Is this a great country or what?… Read more »
Rick Moss
Staff

An important factor Sevenly brings to the value equation is their marketing savvy. These guys are super at what they do. They build excitement each week and leave all the participants — whether they’re buying or just re-tweeting — with a warm glow. If more .orgs sprang up like this, perhaps the charities could concentrate more of their energy on helping people. Bottom line, IMO: as long as more money (net/net) winds up directed toward people in need, it’s all good.

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