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Thursday, May 23, 2024

The real green formula

Simon Ellis highlights the success of FMCG brands who are ‘going green’ the right way.


EDIT Innovation Innovation mainOur new columnist, Simon Ellis, has worked in the FMCG industry for 24 years at Rockline, currently as VP of ECMS. He has helped many global brands deliver hygienic solutions to their consumers. Working at the forefront of FMCG innovation, I’ve always been guided by the mantra, ‘Make everyday life easier for the consumer.’ Yet these days it’s impossible to ignore that consumers have an additional demand – make it greener. Increasing desire for healthy living, better environmental awareness and widespread consumer concern about the risks of chemical ingredients fuelled the demand for natural, organic and sustainable. Building long-term value. It makes good sense for FMCG brands to take advantage of this growing trend. Yet is has to be done right.


Consumers are wary of brands who look like they are just trying to cash in. Brands that have gone green well have shown themselves to be modern, forward-thinking and truly innovative. They have seen the green trend as an opportunity to show leadership, to strengthen the consumer relationship and build long-term brand value. In my opinion a good green innovation makes the consumer part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. Unilever’s Compressed Deodorants is a classic example. According to research, 80% of UK and Ireland consumers prefer spray deodorant to roll-on and more than 19 million cans of aerosol deodorant are used in the UK each year for the female category alone. With its new compressed can and re-engineered spray system, Unilever delivered an aerosol that lasted just as long, was equally effective but was only half the size. Each can cut its carbon footprint by 25%, used 50% less propellant and 25% less aluminium.


Even better, 53% more cans could fit onto a pallet meaning fewer lorries and therefore reduced emissions. Unilever had cleverly offered consumers an everyday solution to lowering their environmental impact and their response was enthusiastic. Launching in 2013, Unilever hit its yearly sales targets three months early. Brands are going green with their ingredients as well, with the natural / organic personal care market growing notably. According to the Organic Monitor, this market exceeded $5bn in 2011 in North America alone – growth attributed in significant part to new product launches. Researchers Kline and Co. have observed an increasing trend towards a higher proportion of truly natural ingredients. One major player set to capitalise on this is Paul Lindley, the entrepreneur behind Ella’s Kitchen 100% organic baby and toddler food brand. He is launching a new brand of high-end children’s toiletries, Paddy’s Bathroom. Designed for toddlers, the products are 98% natural and up to 80% organic.


The seven product range rolls out across 300 UK Tesco stores on March 1. Applying his organic formula to this new opportunity may well bag him another triumph. According to research, 71% of Americans consider the environment when making a purchasing decision or deciding on where to shop. Implications for businesses is that performance is no longer just measured in profitability and returning value to shareholders but also in sustainability and sensitivity to the environment. Consumers and indeed investors are preferring brands that are proactive in improving energy efficiency in transport and warehousing, encouraging recycling, and eliminating wasteful and hazardous practices at the source of raw materials. One growing brand who is successfully ticking all these boxes is the natural cleaning brand, Method.


The brand sells itself as much on its commitment to “prevent unnecessary carbon emissions from sourcing, product manufacture, distribution and company operations, and to provide incentives to help in this reduction process” as it does on the efficacy of its products. Having successfully expanded to over 40,000 retail locations throughout North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, they could be setting a standard for other brands to follow. I would caution brands wanting to introduce green products simply for the sake of going green. The basic rule of innovation still applies – any new product must genuinely offer significant benefits to the consumer and solve their everyday problems better than the competition.

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