Brands in Today’s Ethically Conscious World

In 2020, consumers are more ethically-minded than ever before. Whether it’s cycling to work, taking on #Veganuary, or being conscious about plastic consumption, going greener is having a moment. And naturally, brands want in on the action.

As a result, we’ve seen many eco-minded start-ups finding success in the last few years, while established brands are adding to their offering to expand their market.

A market ripe for tapping

Take for example #Veganuary. Last year, a record-breaking 250,000 people signed up to the ‘official’ global movement, attempting a plant-based lifestyle for the first month of the year. With many more unofficial participants, the 2020 movement is likely to be even bigger – and that’s without counting the millions of vegans and vegetarians who’ve gone green on a permanent basis.

The food and retail markets have subsequently exploded with new plant-based products. KFC’s Vegan Burger, Greggs’ Vegan Steak Bake and Burger King’s plant-based ‘Rebel Whopper’ to name a few.

Greggs’ latest vegan options were met with applause. On the day of release, people queued around the block from midnight to get their hands on a Vegan Steak Bake. This was partially due to a “revolutionary” product, but largely in thanks to the brand’s groundwork in the months leading up to the launch.

Greggs saw a shift in their messaging in 2019, starting with the release of their vegan sausage roll. Then in November, the brand’s chief executive announced that he is now vegan, and planted the seed for more change to come. Although in 2020 the menu is still mainly meat and dairy filled, the change has been gradual, with messaging well thought out. As a result, Greggs’ new product has been perceived as more than just a grab for customers, and marketing was met with positivity at each stage.

Why lip service is no longer enough

However, while Greggs’ latest launches have been a triumph, other brands’ expansions have fallen flat. Burger King’s ‘Rebel Whopper’ launch, for example, has received more subdued positivity, and even outright criticism from many. This came after it was announced that the new soya patty would be cooked on the same grill as Burger King’s meat burgers, making it unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans.

In their eagerness to capitalise on ‘#Veganuary’, the brand had ignored the meaning behind the movement, and caused an almighty backlash in the process. Although the burger chain were quick to counter that the new Whopper was for flexitarians and those looking to reduce meat consumption, the damage had been done. What could have been a lucrative product launch for Burger King was scuppered by a failure to fully commit to the message.

While we’re not suggesting a complete management/diet overhaul for every new release, the impact of a brand adopting a new mentality alongside their new product launch has proven successful time and time again.

If you can’t commit, just do your bit

One month into 2020, and there’s already more of a focus on climate change and environmental responsibility than ever. Last week saw the hashtag #Do1Thing trending on Twitter, prompting people to consider their individual impact on the environment and to make one manageable change to improve it.

While for some that meant lifelong veganism and solar panels on the roof (which are both excellent choices) most recognised that this wasn’t achievable for everyone. So the majority of Tweets simply offered little ways to make a big difference, with a considerable push towards reducing packaging, and stepping away from wasteful brands.

This is advice that brands can take on board too. With convenience and sustainability vying for the top spot in the customer’s mind, it’s not easy being greener than green. Plus, today’s consumers are wise to “greenwashing,” so if your marketing doesn’t line up with reality, you might do more harm to your brand than good (see the McDonald’s 2019 non-recyclable-paper-straws debacle).

Instead it’s all about doing your bit, and keeping your messaging honest, realistic, and most importantly consistent with your brand.

Making a difference with Roberts Bakery  

In a recent campaign, Delineo had the opportunity to work with a brand focusing on just this; a bakery putting the first 100% recyclable packaging in the nation’s supermarkets.

There were no overclaims about being eco-warriors. Just a simple positioning as an independent bakery, doing their bit to make a change in their industry.

As part of the rollout, we met with shoppers on the streets of London, swapping their plastic covered loaves for recyclable alternatives. The support was astounding, suggesting a real shift in customer values.

As we enter February, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that keeping your brand messaging in line with consumer priorities will be key in 2020 and beyond. If you want to see how Delineo can help you stay ahead in this environment, get in touch for a chat today.