In light of the quickly growing Environmentalist and sustainability movement, how would you feel sitting on the sofa after a long day of refusing carrier bags and refilling your re-useable coffee cup, only to be subjected to an advert from a well-known retailer trying to sell you a multipack of plastic straws, or how about a buy one get one free offer on multipacks of 500ml bottles of water?
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year, the answer should be irritated, annoyed, even angry maybe. Whichever it is, it is likely to have an impact on how you view that particular retailer.
As such, brands are now finding themselves in a tricky situation, having to re-brand elements which have been the same for many years, but which are no longer accepted or effective on today’s demographic. Instead, these brands must re-align themselves with the environmentally conscious mindset of the modern-day consumers, regardless of the type of business, or even whether the nature of the company truly reflects the branding that they are promoting.
Not only has this increased the amount of “Eco-brands” that can be found on the shelves of the local supermarket, or eco-friendly versions of “un-eco-friendly” products, created by big brand names looking for their latest cash cow, but it has created a strain for many of the truly authentic, original eco-friendly brands such as Ecover, who are now struggling for consumer attention on the overly crowded shelves.
There are of course, some big brands that do seem to truly care about their impact on the environment and have shown this through a commitment far greater than simply labelling their products as “Eco” or changing their packaging to something brown in colour and covered in green leaves. A couple of these big brands are below:
Understandably, with Lego being a company that evolves around plastic; the so called “plastic-crisis” and the subsequent boycotting of the hard-wearing, durable substance could’ve been a total disaster for the infamous toy brand if they hadn’t of been seen by their consumers to at least made an attempt at an Eco-friendly alternative. So that is exactly what they did. In 2018, Lego launched its only eco-friendly range of blocks made from sugarcane and named it ‘plants from plants’ as part of an all-encompassing brand eco-overhaul.
Now, Ikea is an interesting player in the eco-friendly market. Through their branding, it would appear that they want their consumers to applause them on their eco-initiatives, yet seemingly contradicting themselves at every right turn.
An excellent, albeit frustrating example of this can be seen in their representation and seemingly mixed views of the plastic straw. Remarkably, Ikea was in fact one of the first brands to completely eliminate plastic straws from all of its bistros and restaurants, banning single use plastics in their entirety, perhaps demonstrating their knowledge for the damage these items can and are causing to our planet. Yet, on my recent trip to Ikea, I was surprised to see bulk quantities of 200+ plastic straws in varieties of different colours stacked up in multiple places around the store, including in a prominent place at the tills.
Interesting, especially as their “Last Straw” is now in an exhibition at The Design Museum, London. Yet, despite their obvious confusion in the area of single-use plastics, Ikea must not be discredited for some of its other efforts in tackling their plastic footprint on the planet. They are opening a new sustainable store in Greenwich and have recently launched two large bath boats into the Thames to help clear the river of plastic. It is fair to say that Ikea are trying hard to re-brand into a company that truly cares about the planet and it is not holding back in making sure that their consumers know about it.
When it comes to branding, it is now of utmost importance that companies, especially big brands, can be seen to be making changes that fit into the ideologies of this ever-growing environmental mindset of today’s culture, those who don’t may just sink into the sea of plastic.