I don’t think this is true. Sustainable products don’t need brand to be successful imo.
First, define “successful”.
Second, realize that sustainable products can often be more profitable if considered over longer timeframes than many companies allow.
Third, a good brand (reputation) is a consequence of having good product - not vice versa. The whole idea behind trademarks is the ability for sellers to protect their reputation with their own “mark”. Marketing and ad agencies may try to spin brand trademarking 180 degrees, but that’s misleading.
Of course i agree that they’re is more affecting sustainability than branding, but what i was trying to discuss was the importance of the correct branding, i.e. getting the large corporations onboard to promote sustainable products in such a fashion that it will appeal to the masses.
More and more people are buying organic produce, (even though it is generally more expensive) Why?, because it has been branded with a marketing strategy in such a way that the public realise that they should buy it because they feel they are doing something good, not only for themselves but for the environment.
This is the way products will have to be designed/branded and marketed, from the very packaging down to the product itself, people will need to know that every part of the product is doing something usefull, even though it may be more expensive than the competetors… (we cant keep buying cheap “throwaway” products, we’ll have nothing left)
I had a very interesting experience the other day that has to do heavily with the concept and spread of sustainable design. I work predominantly in the medical device industry and earlier this week I went to a seminar regarding sustainable and/or green design in medical devices. Now for the sad parts. First, 15 people showed up and 4 of them were speakers. Second, when asked about the design of sustainable products for medical use, none of them could say that they have designed a sustainable medical device and few had ideas of how to proliferate sustainable design throughout the industry. Kind of depressing but it does present an interesting opportunity.
The spread of sustainable design or lack there of in some cases, really facinates me. I understand what you mean about organic produce becoming popular because it seems like the right and the healthy thing to do. That said, doing the “right thing” is often a rich person’s luxury. The vast majority of the US, and indeed the world, makes food choices and many product choices on affordability and utility. I am guessing people on food stamps don’t buy to much organic food. Its just too expensive. I am also guessing that the mother with 4 kids in Walmart is not going to buy the shampoo with the recycled bottle material if she can get the same shampoo in a regular bottle for cheaper. For her it is about economy and the survival of her family, not social responsiblity.
I am really not slamming people of lower socioeconomic status but I think that sustainablility would do well marketing to this population. In my opinion, in order to popularize sustainable customer products, they are going to need to be as cheap or cheaper than what is currently out there. It is not an impossible task, it just takes more thinking up front.
On a slightly different tangent, I very much agree about the overproliferation of “throwaway” products and packaging. I think we all know that those plastic packages that everything from cell phones to toothbrushes come in are going to come back to haunt us some day. Work on sustainable packaging materials or at least the reduction of packaging materials would be a nice first step to rebranding for sustainability. Besides, minimalism is in… ha, ha.
Good luck with your disseration. Hope this helps in some way…
That said, doing the “right thing” is often a rich person’s luxury. The vast majority of the US, and indeed the world, makes food choices and many product choices on affordability and utility. I am guessing people on food stamps don’t buy to much organic food. Its just too expensive. I am also guessing that the mother with 4 kids in Walmart is not going to buy the shampoo with the recycled bottle material if she can get the same shampoo in a regular bottle for cheaper. For her it is about economy and the survival of her family, not social responsiblity.
I am really not slamming people of lower socioeconomic status but I think that sustainablility would do well marketing to this population. In my opinion, in order to popularize sustainable customer products, they are going to need to be as cheap or cheaper than what is currently out there.
I completely agree. Making those choices is a luxury not everyone has. I used to wonder how you could have fat poor people, didn’t make sense to me until I read some articles on the corn industry’s stranglehold on markets. Basically, all of that sugar ladden bad high calorie food is the cheapest, so that’s what some people have to buy because it’s all they can afford. Can of soda is 35 cents some places where a bottle of water is over a dollar, soda it is. As long as businesses are making money, they’re going to keep doing what they do.
The green thing has to be the cheapest option for the masses to be able to pick it up so that it’ll have a real impact.
Cheers for the excellent posts.
Here’s a few quotes that may spark some more discussion.
“the pricing was crucial… too cheap and the xxxx wouldnt be taken seriously; too dear and it would not be bought in the way it was planned”
“consumers have to be enticed to want to go to a place that the did not know even existed”
is this the same for sustainable products??
" a small but significent number of consumers chose to buy the lotion in a highly unattractive ‘eco’ package shelved next to the identical product in its regular package, but the number who chose the ‘eco’ package skyrocketed when it was placed next to an over the top luxury package for the very same product"
I think specialk is right when he talks about directing such products to ALL markets, including such ones as the less economically blessed socio-economic groups, if ‘eco-designs’ are marketed, designed and sold to the ‘lowest common denominator’ (for lack of a better phrase) then they are much more likely to have a higher impact. If you look at the way certain countries societies are made up in terms of economic positioning, you will notice that probably good proportion of the public will not have the means to buy the better environmentally sound product out of being caught in a trap basically, they don’t have the funds to do it even if they want to so have to stick to cheaper available versions.
Essentially working up the market chain designing for the largest audience is obviously and ultimately going to prove the most successful.
A perfect example is Whole Foods. Do they make a handsome profit? Absolutely, and good for them. Do they charge a premium for recognizing and accommodating the values of their consumers? Absolutely. Is it a viable business plan? Again, absolutely. Smart companies will learn from this an leverage environmental values to attract savvy consumers. Another example: Patagonia. These businesses are doing quite well and prove that cumbersome, ill-conceived and often costly legislation is really unnecessary.
Proving that having that brand presence does give you leverage to do more and reach that wider audience that a smaller firm would not be able to.
i do not have any links or research for you, but put frankly…the vast majority of people do not care about sustainability. people only care as much as it affects their livelihood, pocketbook, or status. it just is not a big issue for most…
and as long as the general public is indifferent, companies will be too…so if sustainability is going to work it has to come from the very top…