It’s been almost two years since Patagonia began urging its outdoorsy customers to buy less—to sit out “Cyber Monday” and ask themselves: Do I really need a new fleece jacket or, for that matter, a state-of-the-art, 1,000-fill, dry-clean-only $700 parka and all the carbon burning that comes with it?
Not surprisingly, the corporate plea didn’t work, which is to say it worked perfectly for a burgeoning company in the business of selling $700 parkas. In 2012—which included about nine months of the “buy less” marketing—Patagonia sales increased almost one-third, to $543 million, as the company opened 14 more stores. Last year, revenue ticked up another 6 percent, to $575 million. In short, the pitch helped crank out $158 million worth of new apparel.