Consumers will challenge brands in regards of sustainability

Big part of the multinationals are making moves, some more relevant than others, towards the realisation of sustainable products; not only with the environment but also with communities’ social and ethical balance. But these are still minor steps if we take into account all of the entrepreneurial universe. The new European laws which will come into effect in 2020 will be the inflexion point in sustainability and a big step forward for the planet. Moreover, some economical agents are already passing these laws to their suppliers and this is only the beginning.

sustainable brand green leaf

Although, what has to interest us as marketing experts is detecting what are the consumers’ motivations and these motivations are evolving. Consumers are starting to ask companies that they affront their products’ sustainability as soon as possible, both on content and containing levels.

The main motivations are and will be, those that follow:

Do you really have a promise of sustainability?

Worrying and getting information on whether a brand has a promise of sustainability, and if it has one, whether it is believable and significant. During many years brands have abused of Green Washing, and most of these cases have transcended to the public eye and now brands are required better methods. As consumers start to know how to detect this they will start taking purchasing decisions.


Do you use adequate ingredients or materials?

Especially in some sectors like cosmetics, there is a tendency to describe ingredients or materials with more “marketing” names which catch the attention or transmit what they do / bring. However, consumers increasingly want ingredients to be clear, short, direct, pronounceable and recognisable. If not, they will start neglecting the product. Cosmetics, for example, is considered like “food” for their skin, and if, because of the ingredients, they would never eat it, then they will not want it on their skin. In the case of textiles consumers prioritise natural fabrics instead of synthetic ones which contain polyester and which are not biodegradable and will liberate micro plastics in the water every time they are washed.


Does your product require all of its packaging?

It has to be recognised. The majority of products have an excessive packaging, initially orientated to ameliorate the client’s experience when opening it, to increase commodity while using or simply to maintain his physical integrity to a greater extent. It is especially remarkable in products which are being sold as Bio or Ecological products in their content, but are nothing like it in their containing, in other words, their packaging. Thus, and especially for these last cases, if a packaging has an excessive amount of plastic consumers will think it is hypocritical on the part of the company, who is communicating that they do not care about sustainability. If something comes in paper, glass or metal, it is much more accepted, and if those materials are recyclable or are already recycled it’s even better. There is a lot to do in this matter.


Does your product come from fair trade or direct trade?

This question has to do mainly with the place where a product is fabricated. Consumers tend to better appreciate if the products come from, generally, North America, Europe, Japan or South Korea, where working conditions are better compared to the rest of the world. If products come from Asia, Central or South America or Africa then consumers want to know more, they want to have more information. Consumers request more and more that companies ensure, through certification, that their workers are correctly paid for the job they’re providing. Thus, labels like Fairtrade or detailed explications of the fair or direct trade agreements are welcomed by the consumer.

savannah bee company

Does your brand have a philanthropic project?

This corporate aspect is an advantage, though it is not a necessity. Some companies choose to give a part of their income to NGO’s, some of them with ecological purposes like Greenpeace or WWF, this is appreciated by consumers. Skincare brands like THERAPI Honey Skincare or SAVANNAH BEE COMPANY who use organic honey in their formulas, give a percentage of their sales to save the bees and give classes on apiculture. Also, this ties up with the previous point, consumers value positively if the company buys products coming from fair trade, if the artisans’ or farmers’ community will receive an allowance in order to ameliorate the infrastructure, education or other necessities. This is a brilliant form of philanthropy that is integrated in the purchase undertaken by the consumer.


What’s important is not to lose hope and that more and more companies have products that verify some or all of the questions related to sustainability that we raised. Even if it’s not done by one’s own initiative, the new European legislation which will come into effect in less than 2 years, especially what is related to the use of certain materials for the packaging, will accelerate it. Companies who are not prepared will not be able to sell their products. In Little Buddha we are already helping companies to prepare themselves and to lead the change. Are you joining us?

About the author: Xavier Puche | Head of Strategy Iberia
• Ex Client Director of Summa, Coleman, CBA & Landor
• Ex Strategy Director of Columna
• Ex Marketing Manager Maxxium
February 5th, 2019 | Trends

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