Postie+ has got its glad rags on this Christmas. The Kiwi apparel retailer went into voluntary administration last year, closing 12 stores and axing 64 staff, but since former Witchery executive Henry Lee was appointed as CEO in April, there have been big changes afoot. The festive Postie+One campaign released on Tuesday reveals that the new-look Postie+ has a social conscience.
The premise behind the Postie+One campaign, which was developed by Y&R NZ, is the same as that of popular footwear company Toms.
When shoppers purchase a childrenswear item from the new pop-up store at Auckland’s chic Ponsonby Central complex or buy an eligible item online, Postie+ will donate the same item to KidsCan.
This is all very well for those who get a kick out of playing Santa, but for online shoppers who identify more closely with the Grinch, it’s possible to turn off the donation offer and instead redeem a 'Buy one get one half price' offer.
"Given the time of year, there is obviously a lot of retail messaging in the market, so we needed a distinctive offer to stand out from the Christmas retail clutter," says Y&R's fashion creative director Bridget Ward. "Being a New Zealand brand and a long history in New Zealand, we wanted to give something back to the local community, hence the idea was born. A key part of this campaign is first and foremost about fortunate New Zealand children giving back at Christmas time, and Postie+ is merely facilitating this (not forgetting, of course, Postie’s generous donation of each item.) We wanted customers to feel good about their purchase – a statement of their own personal values."
The campaign is also supported by a $200 gift card draw, which requires shoppers to upload images of their purchases to social media using the hashtag #postieoneforone and interact with Postie+’s Facebook page.
The pop-up store and online option will both remain active until 29 November, but Ward believes it might continue beyond that.
"It is certainly something that could have legs past Christmas too," she says.
Postie+One appears to be the first major manifestation of big changes taking place behind the scenes at the formerly struggling company.
"This is a bold step for the new Postie+ and it really demonstrates the change they have made for good," says Ward. "It’s a chance to give back to children in need, their customers and open themselves to a wider customer base. In time for Christmas, Postie+ will personally distribute gift wrapped clothes from the campaign to some of the 500 schools that KidsCan work with."
The latest campaign is clearly also an effort to position Postie+ as a brand willing to lend its corporate muscle to a good cause. And it isn't the only brand to do this. The rise in conscious consumerism has seen many brands release similar one-for-one initiatives throughout the world.
And while it is good to see brands supporting charitable causes, some critics argue that campaigns like this do very little in terms of driving actual social change. One particularly fiery analysis of such initiatives was recently published on Fast to Create, with writers Cinnamon Janzer and Lauren Weinstein saying that intermittently sending products to people in need will do little to rectify the issues that led to their misfortune.
"Improving issues like poverty, access to education, and healthcare requires reconstruction of governance, power, and political structures and systems, not sporadic influxes of arbitrary goods. We need holistic approaches, not piecemeal efforts where a child receives a solar-powered computer one day and a vaccine the next. Those dedicated to and working in development, investing their lives and energy in those who need it most, understand that to eradicate the great humanitarian crises of our time, we need not only resources and commitment but a deep understanding of local contexts—an awareness problematically absent from buy-to-give efforts."
If anything, the writers argue, such campaigns simply serve to further consolidate the status quo, which sees society split into haves an have-nots.
"The 'X for good' phenomenon is a trend. A trend should never be confused with a movement. Trends are fashions, fleeting in nature and always soon to be replaced. A movement is a group of people working together to advance a set of shared ideas. Working together—not buying together—to create transformative change. And that transformative change necessitates bigger picture thinking, altering the way systems distribute power, and focusing on outcomes like increasing self-sufficiency and access to resources. When you simply provide an item, there is a provider and a receiver, a have and a have-not—the antithesis of equality."
That said, the fact that brands are increasingly taking these steps is in some ways indicative of a shift in the way consumers now shop. A recent study by Colmar Brunton showed that 65 percent of Gen Y consumers (up from 59 percent last year) are willing to pay a bit more for the best organic, sustainable and ethically produced products and brands. And given that Gen Y consumers contribute more buying power each year, brands will increasingly have to position their businesses in a way the reflects these changing consumer habits.
- Part of this story was originally published on The Register.