10 Dec

Inside sustainable branding – A talk by Natasha Perkins from Futerra

Good ideas do not sell themselves. With this statement Natasha Perkins began her talk on sustainable branding. Natasha is a Brand Planner at Futerra, a company that helps businesses such as LEGO, Danone and L’Oreal to unlock the value of sustainability. Her main job is to make sustainability attractive, through questions such as: What does the world you want look like?

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In her lecture she argued that after nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are what we need – stories are what makes us human. Here we have to focus on the good-, not the bad ones, as psychologists have shown that optimism is much more positively and effectively received. However, usually when we talk about climate change we show apocalyptic scenarios, which, due to their very nature, repel the audience. This is a false strategy. In Natasha’s opinion inspiration, not desolation is the key to effective sustainability marketing.

In order to market sustainability well, you need to be familiar with psychology. Natasha claimed that humans are self-obsessed with fears and ambition, and that psychologically they can be divided into three broad categories: There are the (1) passionate “pioneers” (think about Greenpeace activists), (2) the “settlers” who predominantly care about safety, savings, and their home and (3) the “prospectors”, who are quite narcissistic and just want to “have fun”. While the “pioneers” don’t need further convincing on environmental issues, the other two categories require more strategic marketing efforts. To sell a solar panel to a “settler” you will need to stress that this is a means through which they can improve their home, that it will reduce their energy dependence and further, that it is a great means to save money on energy bills. Prospectors, on the other hand will need to be convinced how the purchase of a solar panel will make them special, trendy, stylish and yet individualistic. These three categories are useful to identify suitable production and marketing strategies for companies. Dorel, for example, sells to housewives, so we can expect the average buyer to be a settler.

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Further, sustainability marketing needs to be short and precise. Natasha believes that a big down-turner of some sustainability products is that they overwhelm the consumer through their information overload. Would you rather choose the nice colourful branded shampoo or the one that is crammed with scientific facts, formulas and numbers? The answer to this question is obvious.

And a final recipe for successful sustainability branding and thereby also a successful transition to a sustainability paradigm, is that it needs to be associated with fun. We have to have more fun than everyone else and tell them about it, so that they will want to join us. For example Futerra launched a campaign, named ‘Who made my clothes?’, to inspire change and reconnect the broken links in the supply chain. More than 124 million people participated in more than 70 countries by sharing pictures of themselves in their close, asking the producers how they are made and where they come from. This campaign was fun, cool and everyone wanted to participate. (To find out more, click here  ).

Overall we thank Natasha for this insightful talk and will hopefully all benefit from her sustainability marketing wisdom