Patagonia is a brand with activism at its core, but it’s still a business — and business seems to be booming after the company took a public stand against the Trump administration.
The company last week joined a group of conservationists in suing the administration after it announced the protected boundaries of Bear Ears National Monument, more than 1.3 million acres of land in Utah filled with Native American sites, would be reduced by more than 1 million acres, leaving only 15 percent of the land protected.
After being open about the likelihood that it would sue should Trump decide to reduce the protected area, and earlier this year pulling out of an annual trade show in Utah over the state’s attempt to rescind the same public lands, Patagonia changed its landing page to read “The President Stole Your Land” and said the move to reduce the area was simply “illegal.”
The average brand may want to steer clear of any political wrangling that could be a turn-off for some set of shoppers, but data from Slice Intelligence shows that taking a stand may be the best thing a company can do for sales.
Even with a typical post-Black Friday and Cyber Monday lull in shopping, online sales of Patagonia products at third parties surged each day last week above an average day. On Dec. 5 and Dec. 6, the day of and day after Patagonia came out as part of the lawsuit against Trump, Patagonia sales through third parties surged 24 percent and 49 percent, and remained higher over the week, according to Slice data. The company does not have sales data from Patagonia’s own web site.
Yes, it is the holiday season, but Slice said sales of Patagonia the first four days after the lawsuit were in total 7 percent higher than the first four days of the previous week, which included Cyber Monday, the brand’s best sales day through third-parties so far. And Cyber Monday retail spending overall set a record this year, with research from Adobe showing shoppers spent $6.59 billion online overall.
A Patagonia spokeswoman declined to comment on the sales figures.
Public sentiment, at least that available for viewing on Twitter and Instagram, has been leaning in support of Patagonia’s move, with a string of users praising the company’s action and saying they intend to buy, or keep buying, Patagonia products. While others tried to malign the brand as somehow unpatriotic, Patagonia’s initial post about the lawsuit on Instagram (where it has 3.1 million followers) has more than 233,000 likes and going on 11,500 comments. It appears to be far and away the company’s most active post on the platform.
The momentum seems to have concerned Republican politicians. Over the weekend, the Republican-led House Committee on Natural Resources posted a graphic in the same style as Patagonia’s accusing the president of stealing, saying “Patagonia is lying to you.” It went on to characterize the brand as a “corporate giant hijacking our public lands debate to sell more products to wealthy elitist urban dwellers from New York and San Francisco.” The post generated about 1,100 likes and the committee also reportedly sent out an e-mail attempting to explain away Patagonia’s allegations.
Patagonia is a private company founded in the early Seventies by Yvon Chouinard. It has about 1,000 employees and revenue in 2016 is estimated to be about $788 million. This is based on a company report including its initiative to donate 1% of its sales to charitable initiatives every year, which in 2016 equaled $7.8 million.
The committee made no mention of the other groups pursuing legal action over Bear Ears, including Navajo Nation and four other Native American tribes. They and Patagonia claim that the rescission of the Bear Ears land violates the Antiquities Act, which only explicitly endows a president to grant federal land, not undo it.
Patagonia’s spokeswoman said the committee’s response to the lawsuit “was obviously inappropriate, but we are staying focused on protecting our national monuments.”
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