Why Sustainability Is Now ‘The Silver Bullet’ for Consumer Brands
April 17, 2015
They say if you build it, they will come. However, in today’s ever-changing marketplace, consumers’ heightened expectations are flipping the onus off themselves and onto brands. The result? Leading brands not only recognize this newfound empowerment consumers possess, but, are literally uprooting themselves to show-up where their consumers are in intimate ways, ultimately proving their worth and reconfirming their brand’s place in consumers minds, lives, and now, neighborhood. Here, brands become the celebrants, as opposed to celebrities, of their customer communities.
The Ben & Jerry’s Tesla ‘Save Our Swirled Tour’ Campaign and Patagonia’s Worn Wear Truck Tour are two recent demonstrations of brands taking their purpose-driven messaging and consumer advocacy programs ‘on-the-road’. These seemingly low-fi mobile activations are actually embedded with rich insights for brands seeking to build and bond with an ever-growing cohort of conscious consumers. Let’s look at each in-turn.
Ben & Jerry’s and Tesla
On the surface, Ben & Jerry’s partnership with Tesla may appear disjointed. However, when looking through the lens of brand purpose, it becomes clear to see this collaboration as perfectly cohesive. Tesla, at its core, is committed to advancing sustainable transportation. On the same token, Ben & Jerry’s have a long history of advocating environmental responsibility. From its original social-product-economic missions established in the 1980’s aimed at protecting the Earth, through to introducing climate-friendly refrigerators, Ben & Jerry’s is no stranger to leveraging their brand efficacy as a platform for environmental action.
The duo launched their tour in San Diego on April 1st, and will travel up west coast American before crossing over the country to wrap up activities in Miami on October 31. Their goal? Not only to doll out free cones across America (to the surprise and delight of many), but to gain the support and voice of fans in putting pressure on international policymakers to commit to working towards 100% Clean Energy by 2050. Ben & Jerry’s also teamed up with grassroots online activist network, Avaaz, to capture fans’ names in the petition that will be delivered at the Paris Climate Summit in December 2015. Ben & Jerry’s are giving a platform for customers and concerned citizens, one scoop at a time.
To bring their Worn Wear Program to life, Patagonia launched a Spring 2015 Worn Wear Tour which kicked-off beginning of April in California and will wrap up in New York early May. Patagonia, the only fashion brand to controversially ask customers not to buy their products, brings their anti-consumption story to life by offering customers free clothing repair services on the truck. They are also teaching customers how to fix their own gear in the future, so they can long continue to wear their well-loved gear. Another retail first – used Patagonia clothing will also be available for sale on-tour. Fans are invited to share their stories for feature on the Worn Wear Blog, and join Patagonia’s community of advocates who believe in the brand’s ‘Better Than New’ ethos.
The legions of fans these brands continue to recruit are a testament to their authentic and innovative storytelling efforts, as well as commitments to a purpose beyond profit. Both examples are underpinned by brands aiming to push forward environmental agendas for generating benefits that will ultimately reside outside company walls.
A few key lessons in purposeful branding these mobile movements show us:
No matter how you reach your customers, a genuinely purposeful message can only be received as such when the vehicle in which it is delivered possesses the same.
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