In this week’s “Brand Face-Off,” we compare Columbia versus Patagonia.
People today are not just choosing the best, the fanciest, or the cheapest brand. They’re selecting to support brands that have the right meaning. That’s why we’re taking a deeper dive into two well known sportswear brands: Patagonia vs Columbia.
First, let’s ask the question: if you were to buy a polar fleece, which brand would you choose? Columbia Sportswear or Patagonia?
When it comes to the quality of the polar fleece, there’s practically zero difference. The Patagonia fleece is more expensive. The features are similar. But, here’s a few things to note about the Patagonia brand that might influence your decision:
- Patagonia donates 1% of it’s money to environmental causes.
- Mission statement: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
- Patagonia gives its employees surfing breaks at work.
- Patagonia was founded by Yvon Chouinard, one of the greatest climbers in history.
Okay, now let’s take a look at Columbia. Here’s what makes Columbia unique:
- Believes corporate responsibility is a companywide effort.
- Mission statement: Design and deliver authentic, outdoor, high-value products for active consumers of all ages.
- Tim Boyle, Columbia’s President & CEO, is the son of the Gert Boyle, whose parents were German nationals who fled Nazi Germany in 1938 and started the company.
Patagonia has a customer base that is smaller than Columbia’s, but is absolutely committed. It’s not that Columbia Sportswear has the wrong meaning, it’s that Patagonia has more of the right meaning for people who care about the brands they support. The Patagonia consumer, like those of so many other brands, is making a choice based on meaning, not just quality, features, or price.
What do you think? Does it make a difference to you on which polar fleece you would buy when left to the decision to wear Columbia vs Patagonia?
Y Scouts is a leadership search practice that connects purpose-driven organizations with purpose-driven leaders. We believe that the best employer and employee connections start by connecting through a shared purpose.