Will it be big brands who will be the answer to a more sustainable, ethical and brighter future for us all? The “us” being the world?
Reported in July’s Trend Briefing this is certainly a possibility – if we look to believe it and of course push to make it happen.
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It is often felt that it’s some of the largest brands in the world which are causing our pollution. Feeding us too much sugar, exploiting vulnerable workers. Invading our privacy and even lying to us to boost sales. It’s often because of their legacy in processes, infrastructure and thinking which means they cause more problems than possibly need to. All because of the inability to adapt quickly to change to make it cost effective for them to do so.
So what we’re now seeing is start-up businesses showing us the way forward. Right from the outset these companies have values of sustainability, ethics and fairness. They’re compact, agile and smart – it is this era in which they have been built and started. These terms and way of living are not new to these start-ups.
The consequence? Millions of consumers actively want to engage with them – work for them. A company dedicated to serving consumers but also set on building a better world?
Is it really this clear cut?
Well of course no. It is very much a simplification of the thinking, analysis and reality.
Of course for start-ups it is a little simpler. They’re starting from scratch so everything is new and they can automatically build better processes, business models, infrastructure and more. However, we also have to understand that start-ups also lack reach and resources. As well as the overall lack of scale to effect widespread change.
So are big brands really in charge?
Well according to Trend Watching, yes. They are the cause of the problem, so let’s think about the possibility of them changing their ways for good. For example could some of the biggest brands in the world such as Coca-Cola, Toyota, McDonalds and Starbucks be the saviours of consumerism? The guiding force behind the creation of a better world?
These brands have huge target audiences. They reach far and wide and have vast material and human resources at their disposal. Not only this they have decades of accumulated skills and knowledge all within specific sectors/arenas.
What Trend Watching are questioning, is, is it time for these big named brands to start putting what they have to better use?
The direction of travel
Creating a trend where we refocus a big brand around a problem that they are best positioned to solve. This may seem a little “out there” but could it be a trend to catch on? Think about it from a brands point of view. It could not only make them more powerful than their competitors in the eyes of the consumer it could also in turn, increase their sales.
Consumers are now becoming more educated and aware of the negative eco, social and health impact of their decisions, on what they buy, what they eat, what they drink etc.
According to Edelman Trust Barometer, 2016, they state that “eight out of ten people say it is the responsibility of business to lead the solution of social problems”.
Having an ethical and sustainable impact
Of course, big brands do carry out and have their programs which reach out, help and support communities, people, sports etc. But what is being discussed here is how they can really compete to win: on size, reach and their potential impact.
It is these elements which a start-up, with all the good intentions in the world, can’t compete on.
For brands, it’s not about them removing the bad altogether. It’s about changing mindsets and engaging with audiences, in only a way in which that brand can.
Looking at the future what if brands such as Adidas committed to making every pair of its shoes from recycled ocean plastic (around 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into the oceans every year). The more consumers buy, the more good they do?
Airline Transavia has been offering cost-price accommodation and direct flights from Amsterdam to Levos for volunteers helping with the refugee crisis on the island. But what if Transavia became the airline that helps humanitarian workers worldwide get to where they are needed the most?
In 2015, Oil company Shell opened a human and solar-powered football pitch in Lagos, Nigeria. The pitch features over 90 underground titles, which capture kinetic energy created by movement of the players; the energy is then combined with the power of the solar panels to operate floodlights. But taking this a step further what if Shell became the company that builds a clean energy future in Africa?
Not new, just bigger
This trend isn’t a new thing. It’s simply being thought about on a bigger scale. It is, however, now turning into a branding mega trend. Identifying a problem and knowing how your brand can solve it. Whilst also accepting that this can’t be necessarily for monetary gain. But for long term sustainability and also power.
For many brands, they’re already noticing the change in consumer behavior. And processes and procedures are slowly starting to change to fit with this more dynamic and self-aware world. But I agree with Trend Watching, for brands to really make a difference and be remembered in history, they have to use their reach and their resources on a much larger scale.
We talk about how powerful a brand can be for a company but in this essence we’re talking about power on a global scale. We’re assuming that they can do things that no one else can, in some cases, not even national governments.
If this is the case then all of a sudden it does seem possible that big brands could possibly be the ones to change the world, make a difference and reach people in a different way.
To finish – we invite you to watch this very interesting TED Talk by Jason Clay. He convinced just 100 key companies to go sustainable. You will find out more about how can big Showbox for iPhone brands make a big and positive difference in today’s world:
What about you? Do you think big brands have the power to solve most of the today’s world issues?
References: Trend Watching
Pictures from: Huffingtonpost.com