Showing consumers the true impact of their purchases that support social and environmental initiatives can be difficult for brands. In fact, less than a quarter of Americans (24%) believe their purchases make a significant positive impact. And although it may be impossible to take every single consumer to the areas impacted by CSR efforts, technology is making it possible to bring consumers along on that journey, creating life changing experiences right from a computer or mobile device.

TOMS has given more than 60 million shoes to children in need, but as a consumer buying a pair of TOMS shoes, it can be hard to feel the real impact of each purchase. To solve for that, TOMS enlisted the help of AT&T to create “A Walk in Their Shoes,” a story of a TOMS customer who travels from California to Colombia to meet the child who benefited from his purchase. But “A Walk in Their Shoes” is more than just a video; it’s a virtual reality (VR) experience. The 360-degree video allows viewers on computers and phones to move the image up, down, left or right, to get a full feel for the journey. And TOMS is taking this one step further – the one-for-one giant is giving away 100,000 Google Cardboard VR viewers with TOMS shoes purchases, transforming a smartphone into a truly immersive experience. This isn’t TOMS’ first foray into VR; the brand also harnessed the technology last November to plunge consumers into a giving trip in Peru alongside its Giving Partners.

Experiential marketing is a crucial way to help consumers understand oftentimes complex stories or issues, whether that’s creating a pop-up food desert in a grocery store or an app that allows parents of teenagers to understand what it’s like to be in a toxic teen relationship. Through harnessing VR technology, TOMS has created a new level of “walking in their shoes.” Instead of relying on numbers or data to prove impact, TOMS is able to show first-hand the smile on the face of a child who has just been given a new pair of shoes.


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