New DTC toolkit   //   April 15, 2024

Figs launches program that will give shoppers $50 off in exchange for old scrubs

In celebration of Earth Month, health care apparel brand Figs has piloted a trade-in program that allows people to send their old scrubs in exchange for $50 off a new set.

The program, called “Scrubs That Don’t Suck,” accepts a full scrub set in any condition from any brand — as long as they are clean — through the month of April. Figs partnered with environmental service firm RoadRunner to recycle the old scrubs and turn them into raw materials to create new textiles for items like sports equipment and carpets, among other products. In less than two weeks, Figs has generated over 30,700 submissions. 

For pure DTC brands like Figs, convincing people to choose your brand over a sea of other options can be a tricky and expensive process due to the growing cost of online advertising. Although Figs is approaching its trade-in program from the lens of Earth Month, initiatives like this can be an effective tool to get people to try a new brand and potentially purchase it again in the future. Part of Figs’ brand advertising strategy has historically hinged on the influence of word of mouth

“For those people who still have old baggy, scratchy, scrubs, this is a really easy way for them to upgrade,” said Bene Eaton, chief marketing officer at Figs. “We see it as an opportunity to bring new customers or bring new community members into the fold, and then, we also see it as an opportunity to re-engage with existing community members.”

Heather Hasson and Trina Spear founded Figs in 2013 offering apparel for medical professionals — such as scrubs, jackets and lab coats. Figs’ products are available for purchase on its website and in its sole store in Los Angeles’ Century City. Figs’ net revenue for the full year 2023 grew 7.9% year-over-year to $545.6 million, which was mainly driven by a rise in orders from new and existing customers. 

People can sign up for the trade-in program by filling up a form online to get a prepaid shipping label for one set of scrubs (top and pants) and drop them off at the UPS store. Once Figs receives the package, they will email a code for $50 off shoppers’ next purchase of at least $100. Figs scrubs typically cost over $80 full price. 

The company also hosted an in-person trade-in event in Philadelphia’s fashion district where it garnered a crowd of over 3,000 healthcare professionals over the course of three days. The company also plans to open a store in Philadelphia later this year. Eaton said Figs decided to have the in-person event in Philadelphia due to the large number of healthcare professionals and medical schools in the area. 

“Our community is really so important to us. And we are — every single day — talking with them, learning from them, networking with them,” Eaton said. “When we have an initiative like this, especially with the IRL component, it allows us to really show up for our community, show them that we are listening to them and really ignite a two-way dialogue.”

Other brands, including Jolie and Lululemon, have used a similar tactic to thwart dupes or copycats from potentially stealing more market share. These swapping initiatives were meant to encourage shoppers to test out their brands and prove their items are superior.  

Polly Wong, president of the marketing firm Belardi Wong, said that these trade-in programs are a form of long-term value play. “You’re making it easier for the customer to stay with you and to shop with you,” she said. “It helps to maintain and build market share as well. But ultimately, it’s also a way to give more value to consumers, and we are definitely living in a value-conscious world.”

The downside with these programs, however, is the aggressive deals involved, Wong said. While brands may be acquiring and retaining a customer, she said they are doing so at a discounted level. Some customers could also be just one-and-done shoppers.

However, Figs’ Eaton said the company has been pleased with the outcome of the program so far. Currently, about $2.15 million has been awarded to health care professionals in gift cards to help them get new sets of scrubs. She said the company would be interested in hosting this initiative again in the future. 

“We’re really excited and pleased by what we’re seeing with this one,” Eaton said.