How Patagonia achieve sustainable competitive advantage

Patagonia is a famous outdoor apparel brand, but the most stand-out identity of Patagonia is its genuine support for good causes, especially environmental causes. The company is committed to not only producing the best product but to using the overall business to protect nature (Our Core Values – Patagonia, n.d.). Since the founding of the company, this commitment has been embodied in cuts of profits donated to environmental causes programs, switches to organic cotton, and various activism campaigns (Umapathy, 2020).

This identity can be easily grasped by their primary customer target, which is outdoor activity enthusiasts. As an outdoor adventurer myself, I understand that people in this niche have a certain level of awareness regarding environmental issues. The company’s activism campaigns, such as The Common Threads Initiative, could be genuinely praised by the people in this particular community. It has earned genuine love from the community, and the potential customers, by showing genuine concern and support for causes they really care about.

The consistency in showing real support for environmental activism has ignited the competitive advantage for the company. Patagonia’s strategic management also includes a unique strategy. Furthermore, the company also built a sophisticated system that enabled them to have a sustainable competitive advantage. The company utilized a fairly sophisticated enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to support the operation as well as the good causes.

The role of technology and information systems’ in creating and maintaining Patagonia’s competitive advantage.

With the rapid advancement of technology, the role of information systems has diffused into the backbone of the organization, making it integral to virtually every business (Bourgeois, 2019). Patagonia is a good example of this notion.

Prior to the launch of the Common Threads Initiative, the company decided to work with Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Sunrise Technologies to upgrade its business technology with a new ERP system. Patagonia armed its company with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 together with the Sunrise Apparel and Footwear Template (Ackerman, 2011).

Later on, the company keeps refining its information technology implementation with Microsoft. With this technology, Patagonia is pushing to ensure that it could provide the same experience and the same level of support for every customer, regardless of their preferable purchase channel (Microsoft in Business Team, 2018).

Patagonia’s competitive edge, and the role of information systems

Patagonia has always been a customer-centric company, not only in their genuine support for the activism of their potential customer but also in the creation of the customers’ experience when they interact with the business. Utilizing the company’s collaboration with Microsoft, the company could establish consistency across the customer experience and across locations. This collaboration also brings up flexibility in the team, so that the information technology issue, which is not the company’s expertise, is handled by experts in the field.

For example, the company implemented Azure enterprise integration services to automate workflows and no-server computing options that enable the Patagonia team to focus on what they do best, without worrying about server logistics (Microsoft in Business Team, 2018). With this technology in place, the team could focus on creating powerful marketing campaigns, content creation, activism support, and other essential works.

How Patagonia utilizes IT to create and maintain relationship with its customers

Patagonia has been loved by its customers for its vast footprint in supporting environmental causes. The company has also shown consistency over a long period of time for that support. Later on, the company also gather activism initiatives from the outdoor community and display them on its website. The company has shown a genuine and high appreciation for the community and the feeling is mutual.

The website displays many good causes that are in progress, either those arranged by the company or those arranged by the high profile people in the community. We can even donate to join in supporting the good cause. For this matter, the website really is the online home for those involved.

When the potential customers finally act to purchase, the company is always ready with the technology. The previously mentioned Azure enterprise integration enables the company to facilitate a more convenient and personalized customer experience. It stores customers’ personalized shopping experience data and optimizes their next visit and purchase experience. Customers can go to any store location and easily complete purchases by quickly and safely sharing the customers’ data.

How other firms might use these same techniques as Patagonia

There are two main techniques used by Patagonia, first, to genuinely support the good cause and actively involved in the community’s activism. The second is to implement information technology that can provide the best and most standardized customer experience. While both techniques are relatively easy to explain, both are extremely difficult to apply. Other firms should have the same level of genuineness and consistency to be able to provide the same level of love earned by Patagonia from the outdoor


Ackerman, A. (2011, March 18). Patagonia Escalates Business with ERP. Consumer Goods Technology.

Bourgeois, D.T., Smith, J.L., Wang, S., & Mortati, J. (2019). Information systems for business and beyond. Saylor Foundation.

Microsoft in Business Team. (2018, February 22). How Patagonia transformed the customer experience in the cloud. Microsoft in Business Blogs.

Our Core Values - Patagonia. (n.d.). Patagonia.

Umapathy, A. (2020, February 12). 3 Business Sustainability Case Studies And Why They Worked. Purpose Rising.

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