Your customer isn’t willing to compromise just because the product is sustainable, writes Michael Biaudet, Country Manager (Sweden) and Senior Strategist at Kuudes.
A decade ago, it was clear, products less harmful to the planet also looked very kind; earthy colors on the packaging, a plant, perhaps a parrot, the name included something with green, organic-looking materials. It was a niche market. The products were few, sold by few, and consumed by the few pioneers that understood the consequences our shopping habits have on the well-being of ourselves and the planet.
Fast forward to the year 2022. Every business is flexing their newly developed sustainability muscles in their communication, (whether they act accordingly, or not, is another story) and we have all become more well-informed people, whether or not we live accordingly. The difference between then and now is that you rarely stand out by taking your social and environmental responsibility seriously – you’re almost expected to.
We need to get the better products to the masses
For the world to change for the better, we do not only need businesses to come up with better products and ways of doing things but for us, as consumers, to start buying and using new alternatives and actually changing our behavior, en masse. However, Kuudes’ The Informed Consumer study has shown that people are not willing to switch to sustainable alternatives if other aspects of the product or brand are seen as a compromise.
So, on the one hand, being sustainable is something that no longer makes you stand out, and on the other hand, your potential customer doesn’t want your products if they do not deliver on the expected performance or resonate with their needs, values, and identity.
So, back to square one, then?
Our work with the Swedish plastic-free chewing gum brand, Chew Folk, is a good example of how the look and feel of a brand can make all the difference. It has been taken out of its niche “sustainability” category and placed alongside more conventional chewing gum brands, challenging the highly functional category with deliciousness and attitude; in addition to the fact that it’s better for the planet.
Don’t get me wrong, brands with products that are radically better, socially and environmentally, will be rewarded, and you should talk about all the fantastic things you do to inspire others to make a difference. However, be careful of putting all your organic eggs in your recyclable basket, because, what happens when the competition becomes just as sustainable? What kind of uniqueness do you have left?
Therefore, in order to create concepts and brands that make a difference, you must start by truly understanding the drivers and motives behind the behavior of your target group. The true champions of tomorrow are not the ones shouting “WE’RE SUSTAINABLE!” the loudest, but the ones who can offer something extraordinary, that speaks to the target group’s values and motives in addition to doing everything in their power to have a positive impact on the planet and its inhabitants.