Our thoughts:
The era of the sustainable brand

17.03.2020
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The environment is becoming a massive issue which everyone is talking about. No matter where you look there will be something that mentions either climate change or sustainability. People are starting to realise that our impact is becoming a significant threat to the planet. If we don’t start addressing these issues will our planet still be around in 50 years time?

Most people in the past few years have started to incorporate sustainable practices in their day to day lives, such as reusable coffee cups, reusable straws and avoiding single use plastics. This has opened up a whole new marketplace for brands to grow into and for new brands to fill a gap. Consumers are becoming more clued up on where their products are coming from and the process behind how their products are being made. This means there’s a rise in consumers seeking out brands which are more environmentally friendly, causing brands to have to step up, listen and start to be more transparent. So, brands who are failing to address these issues are losing out on a whole group of consumers.

In the past few years more and more sustainable brands have been popping up and growing in popularity. A lot of these brands have been joining the market in a very disruptive way. These are a few that have been leading the way and making a positive impact.

Although Oatly has been around for years they have really started to dominate the sustainability market. Through disruptive and playful language, such as their slogan ‘like milk, but for humans’ they get across their message of doing everything they can to produce a plant-based milk in a way that’s the least harmful to the environment as possible.

Something which Oatly has been doing for years, which is really showing what brands can do to be totally transparent with their consumers is releasing a sustainability report at the end of each year. This sounds like it would be a very dull, filled with pages and pages of technical jargon but Oatly has put their unique spin on it. Although the report is very informative, the pages are filled with illustrations and key stats/ information pulled out in Oatly’s quirky way. This has made a document which would probably just be skimmed past or not even read, into something which is really interesting to read. Not only are Oatly producing a product which aligns with many consumers’ beliefs, they are able to educate people on ways in which brands should be stepping up and listening to those consumers’ beliefs.

oatly sustainability report
Source: Oatly

Another brand which has been pioneering the sustainable marketplace is KeepCup. Nowadays when you walk into a coffee shop you’ll almost always see someone getting their coffee in a reusable cup. KeepCup has created a product which makes having a significant environmental impact a very simple task. But their goal isn’t just reducing their consumers’ environmental footprint. KeepCup has a very detailed responsibility section on their website outlining all the ways in which they are trying to be as environmentally conscious as possible. A large part of this is how they manufacture their products, they have made a real effort to try and manufacture close to where they are selling, thereby reducing their transit footprint – “The savings are not financial; they are environmental.”

KeepCup, a certified b corporation
Source: KeepCup

Teapigs is another great example of a brand really doing their bit for the planet. Their whole brand was built off trying to make every product they create either recyclable, compostable or made from recycled materials. With tea bags being a generally nonrecyclable product which not many people are aware of, Teapigs have flipped that idea creating tea bags which contain no plastic and so are able to be put into food waste bins. Their tea bags even come in a bag which looks like plastic but is made from wood pulp, so is also compostable. They were the first tea company to be certified plastic free. Now they are no longer the only certified plastic free tea company, but they definitely lead the way, showing other companies that small environmental changes are easy to implement.

teapigs packaging breakdown
Source: teapigs

The new environmental changes and breakthroughs shouldn’t just be down to challenger brands popping up, the large corporations have a role to play too. Consumers are becoming more interested in knowing what large brands are doing about their environmental responsibility.

Danone is a large corporation making big changes to adapt to the new sustainability conscious world. They are learning and growing from how their production journey impacts the environment, and ways to improve this. In the last several years they have made a real attempt on reducing their emissions, from the very beginning of their production line all the way to delivering to consumers. They are even making a real conscious decision to let everyone know when what they’re doing isn’t enough. This means consumers will see the brand as honest and feel like they can trust what they’re saying, that the information they are stating isn’t just greenwashing trying to paint them in a favourable light. This is also a great step forward showing other brands that everything doesn’t have to be perfect straight away, that no matter what happens, let people know what went wrong, why and then how to do something different to make the impact to the environment smaller.

danone sustainability model
Source: Danone

Consumers are paying more and more attention to which brands are addressing the sustainability issues and which brands are not doing enough. If brands want to survive in today’s world, they are going to have to do more than just talk about environmental issues, they are going to have to really work on those issues. Consumers want to see dedication to the plan. All these new businesses popping up are great and have really helped to educate people on what can be done, but is this causing other companies to see what people want and start to greenwash? Or are consumers becoming savvy to this and will the smaller companies doing more start to overtake the large companies which have not addressed these issues?

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