MY PATH TOWARDS CONSCIOUS CONSUMERISM SEEN THROUGH THE EYES OF THE MARKETEER IN ME.
A year and a half ago I acknowledged my individual "power" as a polluter, and the ecological footprint of my family and I. I woke up to the fact, that we, as a species, lead an unsustainable lifestyle, living on credit as far as the planet resources are concerned and that the future is not looking bright, let alone, green. Facts tell me there isn't the least of demagogy in my words, and if you have been paying attention to what is happening in the planet, you know it is the real deal.
As a mother, I could only really do something by walking the talk, by teaching my children, for example, not to produce litter, instead of simply telling them not to throw it on the floor. And as a citizen, I could no longer go on eating so called "clean food" or superfoods wrapped in packaging that would take 400 years to disappear from the face of the earth.
This changed everything. I became a conscious consumer, "reprogramming" my mindset as one and started to focus on reusable VS disposable and VS recyclable. This shift led me to cut down on my consumption habits, retrieving my self from buying just for the sake of... style, for example, to declutter my home and wardrobe, to reuse what I already have, to start minimizing my waste, sourcing mostly local and 100% natural products, to drastically reduce my personal meat intake and choosing natural over processed goods. Less plastic, less packaging (and boy, did I LOVE packaging!), less impact, less in general. Concepts such as #minimalism and #zerowaste became a part of my vocabulary, although I dicided to settle somewhere in between, in #lowimpact and #lowerism.
embraced the fact that, as a responsible consumer, the concept of cost became wider, including the social and environmental impact of everything I bought. So if I’m to buy something, I want to know more about whatever I’m acquiring, who made it, how, where.
Bear in mind that I'm a Marketeer at heart, and for years in a row that was my fulltime job. And did I pollute, did I contribute to landfills somewhere in the world with literally thousands of disposable glasses, for example, when I absolutely refuse to drink from one as we speak.
So what I find interesting within this context, is to look at my current consumer habits from a Marketeer's perspective:
Without no one asking me (let alone paying), I am a proud ambassador of the brands I have chosen, because I trust them and they represent the values I believe in, such as sustainability and authenticity.
Their brand promise is not written in the most beautiful fashion, imagined by a talented copywriter, in a clean, appealing website. But it comes from the soul and from the heart and in most cases, it was made to me, face to face.
I did not become aware of their product benefits through an outdoor or youtube ad, generated by the most creative agency on the block. Again, in most cases, they were explained to me, face to face.
Their products are not delivered in beautiful packaging, that combines different materials (therefore, not recyclable), with embossing and plastic finishings, that add shine and glamour. Instead, they come packed in the least possible way, thus avoiding unecessary waste. Having said that, some of them manage not to disregard the design even in its minimal wrapping.
I know quite a few of the people who produced, handcrafted my products, where their expertise to do so comes from, how their beliefs coincide with mine, how and where they sourced their ingredients, and exactly what these are. That is also why I know, for a fact, that they are 100% natural and, in most case, 100% national.
There is no endless list of ingredients with weird names, and a tiny message that says that they damage marine life. Their list of ingredientes is generally no more than a handful of components, that might have techinal names, yes, but also comes with its “translation” so I, as, a consumer, can more easily identify them.
Sometimes, I even have the luxury (not in terms of price) to have products produced for me, according to a specific need of mine. Customization doens’t get better than this.
These tiny brands don’t pretend to be natural or responsible. They simply are. And if they were to pretend to be, their business would end in the blink of an eye, because sustainability is what originated them in the 1st place, and one of the reasons consumers, such I, believe in.
And yes, some are businesses with a logo, but quite a few are BRANDS. Some have poor design, have no marketing budgets, and rely solely on WOM and Social Media as their key promotional tools. But most have a clear message, a set of values and a mission, They are, for me, the essence of brand coherence. They walk their talk.
So from where I stand today, words such as opportunism and greenwashing pop into my head when I see a company that commits to integrate a #circulareconomy approach in its production chain, but fails to ackowledge and act, on the humillious working conditions practiced by the factories where their garments are produced in some faraway country. or when another highstreet brand that launches a few "conscious" items within their seasonal collection to show how commited they are to nature, and uses dodgy chemicals to dye their "vintage" look-a-like denims. or when the products of a cosmetics brand that claims to be 100% natural, are actually packed with toxins and synthetic ingredients.
As a consumer, I expect transparency form the brands I choose. As a Marketeer, this is the type of relationship I believe a brand should build with consumers, one based on trust. Consumers should expect "their" brands to align with their values in word and deed, to truly integrate social and environmental impact in businesses in a meaningful way, not just for marketing sake.
This much I knew, although my new... lifestyle took this relationship to a whole different level. But what my recent consumer journey has taught the Marketeer in me was that, as we speak, this shift required from companies goes way beyond brand commitment, it goes down to need, to survival and to medium to long term profitability: time has come for companies to embrace that their sustainability is directly related to the one of resources (and their growing scarcity), and as such, of the way they do and build businesses and products. And they have the power to do so much, if only they are to do it for real.
I struggle to remember "big" brands that are true inside and out, that integrate sustainability across its value chain as a whole rather than a set of words on a wall in some citty office. In fact, only #patagonia comes to (my) TOM, but would love for you to share more and I will definitely continue my quest to get to know them.
But at the end of the day, it is up to us, consumers, to demand coherence, true responsability, in line with their impact on the the planet and society. If not, they will not feel compelled to change.
As far as I'm concerned, my path has given me control over the value chain of the products I buy and the brands I (nowlove. But what is really amazing to me is that, through my daily choices, I am playing my role as an individual and citizen of the world, in a global problem. And that is, dear reader, is my Super Duper Power as a consumer ;-)