24 July 2018

Lately, sustainability is THE buzzword. On my social media, not a day passes without reading about single-use plastic bags and straws, Styrofoam bans, or about a friend trying to move toward a zero-waste lifestyle.

Consumers are also more aware of the impact of their consumption and they want to reduce their guilt associated to it. For example, one may feel more responsible when purchasing on the go ready to eat fast food if it is wrapped in 100% compostable paper than if it is served in a Styrofoam container.

Many initiatives only preach to the converted, by targeting those who are naturally attracted to ‘’green products’’.   However, to make a real change and have an impact on the purchasing habits of a larger audience, some organisations have understood that the majority of consumers are not ready to change their consumption habits if this involves a considerable loss of enjoyment, even if they are aware of the benefits for the environment. Companies need to counter this loss aversion with an offering that reduces consumption guilt but does not require a huge sacrifice or effort.

Here are a few examples that speak for themselves:

1)     Electrical cars for car nuts

Car fans want to drive high-performance vehicles. Even if they are aware of the impact of gas emissions, they are not ready to settle for an economic car that they will not enjoy driving. Tesla understood this and offered a powerful car that works on electric power. They targeted a segment that would never have been interested in electric or fuel-efficient cars. Since then, we have observed a paradigm shift, and more companies have followed Tesla’s lead. Now, it is not only consumers who are concerned about the environment that want to get an electric car, but even performance-driven buyers …and that is a huge step! In the same vein, car2go is now offering a luxurious car sharing service with Mercedes-Benz cars available, in addition to the traditional Smart, for any subscriber to use. You see?! Even car sharing can become sexy.

2)     Plant-based patties that cater to meat lovers

Have you ever heard of Impossible Food or Beyond Meat? These companies took the gamble of creating meat-like products that compete with meat. The 100% plant-based food they developed looks and tastes like meat. The branding, the packaging and the overall communication campaign talks to carnivores and reminds of meat products. They even sell it in steakhouse restaurants or in the meat aisle at the supermarket. Some may say they adore a black bean patty but, let’s be honest; it is never as delicious as a juicy burger! Now, there are vegan solutions that do not compromise on the taste and texture.

3)     The look of leather with no animal involved

Matt & Nat and other eco-friendly leather companies have developed a fabric, sometimes made of recycled products, that looks and feels like leather or suede but is actually 100% vegan.  The fact that the bags or other products they make are rugged and tastefully designed makes them a viable option for animal lovers as well as fashion enthusiasts.

So, how will your company be the one to disrupt the market and create a sustainable and eco-friendly solution that caters and appeals to the mass-market? Any ideas?