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Posted by Div and Brittany on February 24, 2020

Public attitude toward the environment has evolved dramatically over the last decade– mostly driven by millennials and their spending habits. What does this mean for the world’s leading brands? Are they evolving to defend their share of the market? And if so, how are they doing it while staying true to their brand story?  

At BTI, we know that the environment is the most pressing issue for brands trying to keep up with an increasingly conscious market. 

Consider the number of sustainable brands you might have come across in the last year, the number of products, shoes, bags, jackets, now made from recycled materials, the advertisements you have seen with consumer social responsibility initiative stories leading the messaging. Here are a few examples that come to mind:

IKEA's model has always been “assembly required”. While this saves resources in some ways (transport, storage footprint, etc.), it certainly leads to a lot of packing that will eventually be tossed or recycled. In response to this, IKEA has started using biodegradable mushroom-based packing.

When we think of sustainable initiatives, very few might think about the shoes on our feet. The reality is that shoes are composed of plastics, synthetic foams, and sometimes leathers that are leaving their imprint on the environment. Hip Hop artist Kanye West seems to have a solution. His latest iteration of the “Yeezy Foam Runners”, will be made from “seed to sole”, growing their own algae in a hydroponic farm, and producing a natural foam from it. The shoes will be partially made from this foam and will even use an environmentally friendly dye for colouring.

Fast fashion brands have suffered time and time again as everyday citizens and investigative journalists uncover unsold, destroyed merchandise headed to landfills. While the issues surrounding this practice are complex and unfortunately, common, H&M has attempted retribution, with their clothing recycling program.

These brands did not change their story overnight. In fact, many companies face constant criticism and continue to be vilified in the press despite taking steps to change the narrative. These kinds of stories not only influence spending habits, but also challenge everyday people making everyday purchases to be even more critical about the brands they support. A consumer’s personal consciousness is now central in this model - demanding transparency on brand ethics and business practices so they can be feel good about their purchase.

The days of quick PR fixes to undo environmentally irresponsible business decisions are now over. Consumers are evolving and no longer standing for “greenwashing”, desiring to make purchases aligned with their values and researching in-depth. As a result, many businesses are left scrambling to respond or risking potential abandonment.

What can a brand do to appease this type of consumer while staying authentic?

We will be sharing more about The Conscious Consumer, stay tuned for Part 2.

Do you have questions about starting a sustainable brand? Thinking about launching one of your own? Reach out to our team of Connectors for expert guidance in launching a sustainable business.