National Edition

Give a notebook to a school kid by buying a notebook from Target

Published: Tuesday, July 8 2014 4:00 a.m. MDT

Unlike other "buy one, give one" brands like Toms Shoes, or eyewear company Warby Parker, which are relatively upscale products, most Yoobi products retail for between $1 and $9 — no more than most of their competitors.

"Our philosophy is that these should be things that everyone can afford," says Leffler. "It's a guilt-free pricing model."

The pay-off

Jill Sando, a vice president and merchandise manager at Target who worked with Leffler to develop the Yoobi concept, says that social causes are increasingly important to Target shoppers. So much so that Target was willing to invest in the project "and spend less in other areas" to support the give-one model.

It's not something that every company can afford to do, but those with large budgets like Target can, and research shows that it's increasingly good for business.

According to a 2011 study by ad agency network TBWA/Worldwide and TakePart, 7 in 10 young adults consider themselves social activists, and four out of five said that they are more likely to purchase from a company that supports a cause they care about. Three in four think more highly of a company that supports a social cause.

The buy-one-give-one model, though appealing, isn't failsafe — in fact, Tom's has come under scrutiny from critics who ask whether the shoes really reach people in need, and if they harm local manufacturers.

Yoobi is navigating those problems by drawing on the experience of Kids In Need to make sure the gift product gets into the right hands. It also has the clout of Target behind it, and aspires to the lofty goal of reaching 30,000 classrooms and 750,000 kids by 2015.

Leffler attended a give-away at a third-grade classroom in Los Angeles, and the kids were ecstatic, he said. Sometimes the kids are incredulous at first that the product is theirs to keep, says Smith. Others ask if they can give it to other siblings who need supplies, too.

"Sometimes the intangible message is most valuable," says Smith. "You're saying to a student, someone is giving something to you, someone is concerned about your success. Someone believes in you."

Email: laneanderson@deseretnews.com

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