DANA POINT, CA: TOMS, a "movement-driven business" active in sectors from shoes to eyewear and coffee, has progressed in these various categories thanks, in large part, to fostering a sense of community online.

Zita Cassizzi, chief digital officer at TOMS, discussed this theme while presenting at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) Digital & Social Media Conference.

TOMS' rise to prominence was aided by its distinct "One for One" model: every time a customer in a nation like the US purchased a pair of shoes, another pair was donated to someone living in an emerging market.

"We're a movement-based business," said Cassizzi. (For more, including other tips for connecting with millennials, read Warc's exclusive report: TOMS Shoes: five basic best practices for purpose-driven marketing.)

As a result of the company's core positioning, she continued, "community takes on a special meaning. Who are these guys? They're our customers; they're our potential future customers.

"They're leading this omni-channel and omni-connected world. They're 82m strong, between 18-to-24, and we know them well because they really have spread [information] about TOMS with a word-of-mouth [effort]."

According to TOMS' analysis, more than 80% of this demographic in America now utilise a smartphone and three-quarters make daily posts on social media.

To reflect the manner in which their mobile and social media habits are today effectively intertwined, Cassizzi's team has coined a new term: "mocial".

"We want to be social in our mobile, and mobile in the way we socially connect … and we do it early and do it fast," she said.

"These customers are expecting for you to be where they are … the moment that they want [to engage]. They're expecting this connection from you right away."

While TOMS has been able to stand out in a crowded marketplace, Cassizzi also warned the conference delegates that building a genuine sense of community is no simple task.

"Today, with lots of noise and distraction, this is very, very difficult to do," she said.

Data sourced from Warc