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In the age of social media dominance, many companies are utilizing a tactic known as purpose-driven marketing to go beyond just selling their product and help promote issues that benefit their industries as a whole.

Purpose-driven marketing, to put it simply, is a goal-oriented strategy that companies leverage to connect with customers by supporting an important cause. Companies realize that consumers are beginning to care more about the causes that brands support. According to a survey from eMarketer earlier this year, 47 percent of millennial Internet users said they would be willing to pay more for a product if it supported a cause, while 45 percent of the millennials surveyed said they’d be willing to spend time researching brands to see what causes they support.

In the outdoor world, companies such as REI and Patagonia are known to dominate in their support of industry causes. But there’s also support from smaller brands and accounts that look to bring commonalities to the outdoor industry and shed light on inequalities. Below, we cover some of examples of purpose-driven marketing and social media activism.

The New Localism

Patagonia is raising awareness far and wide by utilizing social media. One of their environmental campaigns, The New Localism, is reaching communities all over the world. The push to protect the endangered Earth is a priority for Patagonia. The platform encompasses numerous goals set to shield the ever-looming hazards our planet faces on a daily basis. Bringing their consumers together to raise awareness in their particular area of concern brings widespread unity.

One such crusade is #CrudeAwakening. This campaign aims to protect coastlines from future oil spills. This particular cause came about after the Refugio oil spill near Santa Barbara in May 2015. By bringing insight to the harm caused to our coastal areas and marine life, the community was brought together to fight the fight. With the power of togetherness, three laws have now been passed to enforce strict guidelines which drilling companies must now adhere to.

Patagonia has also been active with a movement in British Columbia known as Jumbo Wild. Jumbo Valley is a rugged valley set deep in British Columbia offering one of only two locations in North America where grizzly bears can be free to trek between the United States and Canada. This area has been the target for a large ski resort for 25 years and locals have been fighting to keep the location safe for the bears. With the help from Patagonia and social media activism, there is hope for increased community awareness and support.


American culture often includes a dose of the outdoors, whether that’s to hike, camp, boulder, bike ride or just enjoy being outside.

Ambreen Tariq, creator of the Instagram page @brownpeoplecamping, came to America with her family when she was just a child. Her parents thought that the best way to embrace the culture was to try camping. Ambreen quickly fell in love with the outdoors and everything it had to offer, but still felt like an outsider because of the color of her skin. Now as an adult, Ambreen has dedicated her life to help diversify the outdoors. She uses Instagram to document her travels across the country and show people that you don’t have to be a certain race to enjoy the outdoors. BrownPeopleCamping is not only a page meant to inspire diversity in the outdoors, it is also a page that encourages people to protect our environment.

Force of Nature

Another REI platform involves gender equality. REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke is speaking out to the community on making the outdoors a place equal to both genders, focusing on the current inequality toward females. REI is using its position as a leader in the outdoor world to raise awareness of the current inequalities and help make a much needed change in the way society thinks. Force of Nature is geared toward making women the central focus, engaging more women and girls to participate in the outdoor experience, and provide specific tools just for them. REI has partnered with the community as well as other well-known businesses to help accomplish the much needed changes.

All of these brands have decided to use social media for a purpose. Purpose-driven marketing can do a lot for your company and the issue you have chosen to stand behind. It can bring together the business and people that believe in your mission and values. Using social media activism should be an essential part of your brand to help motivate your company and create a common culture.

Women Who Hike

This woman, @fearlesssarah is one of the first women we ever featured here at Women Who Hike. We told her story as she was fresh off the PCT, followed along as she hiked the CT and watched her once again conquer another thru hike, the AT, the Appalachian Trail. We knew that as she started out this time and every time, that she would be victorious. After four months and 2,200 miles we got to revel in her moment of victory, on Mount Katahdin. – If you're looking for women to be inspired by, she is one of them. And we hope all of our Feature Friday women are those you have followed along with. If there's a journey you're on or one you're following along with from another woman who hikes… we want to know about it. Tell us about her in the comments below or send us an email [email protected]

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Founded in 2016, the Women Who Hike blog and social media pages aim to create an environment where any woman can share stories, connect, and meet like-minded women. According to the site, Women Who Hike “wanted to create a community that truly encourages, unites and inspires women. And that means women of all backgrounds, geography and skill level. No woman goes and climbs Mt. Everest without first having logged a few miles on their neighborhood trail first. We are here to encourage women to be brave in exploration, proud in accomplishment and rich in self-love.”


Having empathic understanding of the customer and using that thought process to market an experience the client will find valuable is an ingenious idea. One such social media blast from REI was the #OptOutside campaign created in December 2015.

Their goal with this particular crusade was to get people out of stores on Black Friday and into the outdoors. This was an unthinkable action — who would close their doors on Black Friday? REI surprised everyone and did just that. This launch enlightened their customer base with the knowledge that REI understands who they are, and are in fact just like the people they sell to.

REI paid their employees to spend their day outside rather than working in a frenzied environment. Essentially, REI was marketing themselves and what their store stands for, using this purpose-driven style. Companies who run their business with empathy tend to be more successful. More and more companies are leaning toward this style of marketing.

Do you have a favorite purpose-driven marketing campaign or social media activism page you follow? Share it with us in the comments below!