Like it or lump it, the “eco” market is not going anywhere. 66% of global consumers say they are willing to pay more for sustainable brands (Bain & Company).
Despite global economic instability, last year the luxury market grew by 5% to an estimated €1.2 trillion globally (Bain). And Europe regained its place as the top region for luxury sales by value (FT).
Here’s how these two trends are related.
Millennial State Of Mind
Luxury is being re-defined. Consumers are no longer content with swathes of fur, a fast car and a yacht or two. Millennial and Gen Z consumers, who now make up about 30% of luxury shoppers, (Bain) are demanding more from their luxury brands. And don’t think it’s just the millennials; “Millennial mindset has become cross-generational, influencing the evolution of the whole luxury customer base” (Bain).
The experience driven, globally connected, design focussed, socially and environmentally aware generation want their luxury brands to be the same. They demand their cars, champagne and posh frocks be well designed, environmentally sustainable, socially conscious, experiential, and globally relevant too.
This may sound like a tall order, but some of the traditional tenets of the luxury sector – products that are built to last, design that transcends fads and trends, the value of craftsmanship etc. – translate perfectly to the eco/ sustainable mindset. Luxury and eco. Made for each other.
Smart Luxury Brands Are Catching On
Some luxury brands have cottoned on and realise eco luxury is an opportunity to win big.
Image source: Gucci
Gucci have developed biodegradable materials which have been used to make shoes, trainers and eyewear. They have also pioneered a closed loop recycling scheme for eyewear packaging.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What are your product truths? Perhaps you are already using sustainable ingredients but are not communicating them? Could you challenge the scientists in your business to substantiate some claims around the carbon footprint of your product, or other compelling facts on how it’s kind to the environment?
Image source: Thierry Mugler
Thierry Mugler has lead the way in reducing waste since introducing The Source in 1992. Based on the perfume fountains of the 18th century (apparently a huge hit with Marie Antoinette), customers can bring their empty Mugler perfume bottles to The Source and get a refill. Now one Mugler refill is performed every 7seconds and 383 tonnes of waste are spared every year (Clarins).
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Could you create a new ritual focussed around recycling? Could you reward consumer for being eco-conscious like Mac do?
Image source: Veuve Clicquot
Perhaps the most surprising of the new eco luxury crew is LVMH’s Veuve Clicquot. The facts…all Veuve vineyards use sustainable viticulture, including a rather obscure natural alternative to pesticides called sexual confusion. Water consumption has been reduced by 53.6% and 100% of waste is recycled or reused. 2013 saw the creation of the first 100% biodegradable Champagne packaging made from potato starch and 2015 brought us biodegradable packaging made from Veuve Clicquot grape skins, no less.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Not all eco initiatives have to be completely altruistic. Natural alternatives have perceived personal benefits; “ it’s better for me”. Can you find an eco product truth that touches a deeper personal motivation for buying the product? It could be a double or triple whammy benefit then.
Some innovative brands looking at things from the other side of the opportunity…
How Eco Brands Are Catching Up With The Luxury Market
If luxury brands are feeling the pressure to deliver sustainable stories and products with a positive social/ environmental impact; no less pressure is felt by eco brands to deliver luxury experiences.
These smart brands know their eco credentials alone won’t keep them sweet with their millennial mindset customers.
Image source: Method
Method broke the mould for household cleaning the moment they burst onto the shelves of a California grocery store in 2001 with their stylish, eco-friendly products made with non-toxic ingredients. The new rose gold collection ticks luxury cues off left, right and centre. Minimal. Limited edition. Quite literally covered in gold. And all the while remaining true to their sustainable standards. Bravo Method.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: At what level do you introduce luxury credentials to your brand? Is it a brand positioning refresh, a limited edition, a line extension or brand stretch? How much permission will consumers give you to evolve the brand in the luxury direction? (See also brands that stand out from the crowd with emotional positioning.)
Image source: Kinn
Method aren’t the only eco brand offering a luxurious cleaning range. Kinn make organic, non-toxic, plant-based products for the body and for the home and are stocked in a handful of boutique and luxury retail destinations, including Harrods. Kinn products look good enough to have out on the side and they smell good enough to eat. My Mother won’t let us clean the bath with anything else now.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: If you already have a brand or products within your wider company portfolio with strong eco-creds, then perhaps changing the structural packaging and/ or visual positioning could elevate them to an entirely new, more premium space? (For more on that, take a look at our article; Gifts of Brand Repositioning.)
Eco lux is a thing. A big thing. And to miss an opportunity of this size might be considered foolish. So how is your brand going to respond to the challenge?
If you want to discuss how your brand can tap into the eco lux opportunity, get in touch!
First published 8th March @ The Strategy Distillery
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Shelly Greenway is a front-end innovation strategist and partner at The Strategy Distillery – a brand innovation consultancy that specialises in opportunity hunting and proposition development. Their success rates are driven by their proprietary consumer co-creation IP. Follow @ChiefDistiller