Thanks for making it to Part Three of my Sustainability Innovation blogs. This final post focuses on providing you with six steps to ensure your brand has an Innovation Pipeline which is populated with brand-led sustainable innovations.
To me, these three words are key - brand-led sustainable innovation.
In order to get there, a brand needs to undertake a number of important activities:
Step 1: Define the brand: its purpose, values and functional benefit. These will become important principles to then ‘asses’ ideas
Cadbury Dairy Milk’s brand purpose is ‘bringing joy to people’. The brand expanded its definition of ‘people’. This gave the brand permission to support its coco farmers and communicate to consumers its Fairtrade association.
Step 2: Go back to your consumer target and trulyunderstand their values, beliefs and the issues they are interested in or search for a hidden an unmet need. Identity those which best relate to the brand
For many consumers, supporting local brands is an important value. A study by the NFU found that more than 86 per cent of shoppers are as likely or more likely to want to buy more traceable food that has been produced on British farms. And it is this belief which Walkers tapped into when the brand switched to 100% British potatoes.
Step 3: Look at trends to grasp which societal, economic or environment issues are emergent and dominant in the market. Reflect upon which is most relevant to the brand’s footprint and the consumer’s values
Ariel’s ‘Turn to 30’ campaign and product innovation is a great example of a brand which reflected the environmental zeitgeist of the early millennium. During this time, climate change was a hot topic (no intentional pun) which consumers were taking interest in, rather than just being a topic for the ‘greens’.
Step 4: Research the competitive set to know exactly what sustainable values they are standing up for and why
Continuing with the Ariel example, when the campaign was first launched in 2006, Ariel was one of the first consumer brands to really tap into this environmental message. Its competitors were not in this space, so they had carte blanche to reallyown it. And own it they did - as discussed in Part One of this series, by 2007, a report by IPC Green Matters showed that 88% of consumers washed their clothes at 30 degrees C, and 48% of housewives associated this claim with Ariel.
Step 5: Use all of this to create a Sustainable Purpose for the brand – this will become the central pillar which ideas can be built around
Kenco’s brand purpose is built around delivering the perfect coffee experience. The brand had built a reputation for high quality coffee products and innovation. Given that consumers are more switched on that ever in the needs for brands to do good, there is a clear link to Kenco’s Sustainable Purpose of ‘eco-responsible coffee’.
Step 6: Generate ideas against the Sustainable Purpose, and asses each against the pre-defined principles from step 1
Continuing with the Kenco example, ‘eco-responsible coffee’ has led to a string of innovations which support the brand’s values as well as its sustainable purpose: eco-refill packs and recyclable tins, certified Rainforest Alliance, ‘collect to give’ whereby consumers collect points from packs to support two charity initiatives aiding coffee farming communities, TerraCycle partnership who turn empty Eco Refills into new products, training young people to become independent coffee farmers through Coffee versus Gangs campaign etc.
By putting the brand at the heart of the innovation, and adopting issues which match the brand’s purpose and target consumer beliefs, brands will position themselves as a force for good, and the innovations will deliver commercial benefit to the brand.
Sources: Cadbury Dairy Milk, Cadbury website and Fairtrade Foundation; Walkers, Walkers website and NFU Backing the Business of British Farming Report; Ariel, Marketing Society case study; Kenco, Kenco website