When it comes to shopping, I am beginning to realize that a brand’s promise can be more important that the sticker price of its products. There are some brands that take their commitment to quality and customer service to a higher level. I’m talking about brands that care about a product from the minute you purchase it to the second it gets a rip in it. Read below to explore 5 brands that offer lifetime/satisfaction guarantees for their products.
For all my outdoorsy friends out there, Patagonia is a brand committed to making “high-quality stuff that lasts for years and can be repaired, so you don’t have to buy more of it.” This anti-consumerist message may seem paradoxical for a for-profit apparel brand, but Patagonia knows exactly what it’s doing. They have managed to create a customer culture that values quality items and hand-me-downs. They even created a blog that celebrates the stories behind their customer’s favorite Patagonia items, may of which have been restitched and repaired rather than being discarded or replaced.
Patagonia is so true to its promise to give well-loved clothing articles a second life that it embarked on a repairing cross-country journey. Additionally, through their “Worn Wear” recycling program, if your Patagonia gear is unrepairable, you can send it to them (or bring it into the store) to be recycled and/or repurposed. Old or new, Patagonia gear holds a lot of value. Not only will this brand last longer than most. When it finally gives up the ghost Patagonia repair technicians are ready to breathe life back into it. You can find many previously owned Patagonia pieces online and the repair promise applies to them as well. This is a brand it wouldn’t hurt to buy used.
#2. REI and #3. L.L.BEAN
In the movie “Wild” with Reese Witherspoon starring as Cheryl Strayed, there is a scene when Witherspoon throws her hiking boots off a cliff in frustration. She later calls the company REI and they send her new boots, free of charge. A few years ago, REI customers would have told you that was a normal occurrence. Recently, REI changed its return policy to a limited warranty that covers manufacturing defects but not regular wear and tear. However, it’s big outdoors competitor L.L. Bean has maintained its 100% satisfaction guarantee promise.
The scene in “Wild” prompted me to look for comparable policies. I discovered L.L.Bean’s robust return policy. According to the website, you simply return the item and L.L. Bean will either reimburse the original purchase price or give a L.L.Bean gift card to replace the item. There was an interesting NPR article that examined how REI and L.L. Bean’s return policies affected customer loyalty. If you search online, you can hear countless stories of customers returning items more than 10 years old and getting back a new replacement. Outdoor gear can be a hefty investment but these generous return policies give customers more bang for their buck.
LEVI’s jeans are known for their quality and durability. What most customers don’t realize that some LEVI’s locations have an in-house tailor shop that will make alterations, repair rips, hem and customize your jeans for you. Customers who often have to pay to have their pants shortened or taken in can take advantage of Levi’s free tailor services. When I spoke to one of Levi’s store tailors in Copenhagen, he said that as long as you keep your receipt you can bring in your jeans for mending. Even if you don’t have a proof of purchase, you will only pay a small fee for the tailor services. To find a tailor shop near you, check out their website for locations.
Going back to school always involved shopping for the perfect backpack. Most backpacks have to be replaced year after year, but Jansport backpacks come with a lifetime warranty that few customers take advantage of. Their warranty promise states “If your pack ever breaks down, simply return it to our warranty center. We’ll fix it or if we can;t we’ll replace it or refund it.” I may not have believed the validity of this warranty, had I not sent in my ripped backpack a couple years ago. After I filled out the form and returned it to the mailing center, Jansport sent me a message saying they had received the backpack and were in the process of replacing it. They informed me that an exact replacement of my backpack was unavailable, but gave me the option of choosing from newer Jansport designs. I selected my backpack design and a new one was delivered to my front door, free of charge. The Jansport-brand warranty makes certain that its classic backpacks will .
These brands are household names for a reason. They know how to keep customers coming back and that is why they have lifelong fans. These “give back”policies create a feeling of reciprocity that enable the customer to justify a higher price tag. Customers hand over their money knowing that, along with the item they paid for, they are also ensuring the upkeep of it as well. While the brands listed above are not perfect, they are exemplars in the apparel industry. Simply selling clothes is no longer sufficient, apparel companies must create a culture around their products. Patagonia values storytelling, REI and L.LBean celebrates adventurers, LEVI’s is the symbol of rebels, and Jansport exudes reliability. Apparel brands seeking die-hard fans must ask themselves, what is the brand promise that customer’s get with each purchase? If the answer is nothing, then it may be time to go back to the drawing board.