30 June 2019
Soulful Sustainability & the age of NOwnership
Soulful Sustainability and the age of NOwnership in lifestyle brands
At Third Floor we believe that every brand has a soul. The soul is that intangible value at the very core of the business, it’s what drives every decision you make and helps to steer the direction of the brand, sometimes without you even knowing it. Our focus when conducting any of our brand thinking projects is to dig into the soul of a company to find the reason they exist and what gets them out of bed in the morning. The ‘soul’ is the singular proposition that can define a brand and give them a genuine point of difference in the market.
We are seeing brands looking to capitalise on global trends like sustainability to exploit opportunities. Every brand should be agile enough to react to these challenges, but they must ensure those changes in direction and focus align with their core values… their soul.
As a brand-focused creative agency we keep a very close eye on current market trends and consumer behaviour patterns to enable us to create those opportunities for our clients…
Brixels – Online brands getting physical with Bricks and Mortar stores
More and more brands are choosing to have both offline and online retail outlets. Online giants such as Amazon have seen huge success in Amazon GO (Groceries) and Amazon Books (Book stores) and have begun to roll these out globally. This success could be to do with consumers shifting to brands that offer experiences, not just products. Another reason is a need for customers to experience something real and tangible instead of a screen of pixels or it could just be convenience as consumers demand shorter lead times on their purchases.
• How does your online user experience differ from your store?
• How do your customers feel about this?
• Do they buy online out of convenience or do they enjoy the experience?
• What technology can you use online to better the experience – Live chat, virtual dressing rooms, staged payments, improved delivery options?
NOwnership – It’s all about experiences
Millennials… Generation Y… Next Gen… Echo Boomers… whatever you want to call them are what many brands are focusing their attention on. They are the largest generation since their parents and they think differently. They differ in their outlook on life, their approach to buying and what they expect from a brand. GenY are opting for experiences over ‘things’. Objectified markers of success are no longer as meaningful as they once were. People have become increasingly disillusioned with the status quo. As a result of changing times, millennials want to seize the moment, and they are skipping the shops for carpe diem.
• Consider how your brand can engage with consumers on different levels – Create a ‘real world' situation where customers can experience the brand and share this with friends.
• Educate customers not only on your brand, but the world you live in – Everyone wants to learn something new – This will help them to understand your brand better.
• Look at subscriptions / rental for your services – A way to provide the same service or product but without the complete commitment - access over ownership.
"More than three in four millennials (78%) would choose to spend money on an experience or event over buying something desirable." (Harris study).
Purpose – Stand for something
Brands are increasingly aware that younger consumers want their brands to take a position and to have a purpose. Sometimes brands are compelled to take a controversial position, such as abandoning the NRA following the shooting last February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Or they voluntarily take a controversial position, for example Nike’s Colin Kaepernick campaign. Frequently, brands simply adopt non-controversial positions like fashion brand Everlane who promote manufacturing transparency and sustainability. Expect to see an ever increasing number of brands take positions on topics meaningful to consumers. Brands can no longer remain on the sidelines.
• Take a step back and ask yourself ‘Why are we here and what role do we play for our customers?’
• Stop thinking about product benefits and features and start thinking about consumer needs and their emotional states when making purchases.
• Have a voice – Talk about your brand and your plans for the future.
When we launched &SONS Clothing, we wanted to celebrate the ‘Everyday Pioneer’ – people who are setting their own paths in life and willing to look over the horizon. We showcased real people in their chosen specialty, such as Artisan Bakers, sign-writers and boot-makers. We championed these Pioneers. allowing customers to see real people doing cool things. Naturally, the &SONS clothes were then design and crafted to suit these archetypes.
Trends are great to watch from a distance, however they should never be used to define a brand. We cannot simply steer the ship in a completely different direction just because we feel it will open us up to a new audience or market opportunity, but what we can do is go back to our own soul and look at how we can react to the changing consumer behaviour in our own way.
And now time to practice what we preach...
As sustainability remains prevalent in the media, governments and consumers minds, this is one movement that is going to dominate the approach we take to how businesses operate. As we work with more and more lifestyle brands we are becoming increasingly aware of our impact on the environment when we make choices around deliverables, for example packaging. We are changing our approach and this is largely through how we work with our suppliers. As an agency we have a responsibility to consider our products ‘end-of-life’ as we begin to think about the initial concept. The impact it will have, the materials that are used, the cost to our client and potential increase in tax (PRN system) for not meeting the sustainability criteria. To do this, we are working closely with suppliers, manufacturers and our clients to ensure that we are making moves to create engaging brands that have maximum impact on shelf without compromising the sustainability agenda.
Design thinking is at the heart of Third Floor’s approach to any project and a powerful tool that can solve really complex challenges. Whilst clients are aware of these challenges it’s our job to ensure they don’t get swept along by latest trends, or try to define their brand by it. Global issues like sustainability should be weaved into the fabric of all businesses and not used as a PR and marketing exercise.
If you’d like to know about finding the ‘soul’ in your brand, call us today on 01242 512629, or get in touch through the website.