Why your ethical purpose means nothing to shoppers

26 November 2019 /

Why your ethical purpose means nothing to Shoppers


Author: Lara Doherty

I always know it’s that festive time of year when I see tiny woolly hats appear on Innocent bottles. It makes me notice the brand, appreciate its support of Age UK and makes me want to buy a bottle to rally behind them and the charity.

Innocent bottle wear woolly hats to help the elderly through winter

Don’t limit purpose to limited editions

But why do brands often limit shouting about their ethical or sustainable credentials in-store to limited editions or seasonal tie-ups? Why do they choose to relegate this all important point of difference during the rest of the year to their back of pack or just to their website? Especially since 88% of shoppers want brands to help them make ethical changes to their behaviour.

Fairtrade is not a differentiator

Yes, the Fairtrade logo (amongst others) is widely used today by brands on the front of packs and this for sure gives assurances of a brands ethical value to shoppers. In fact, The Grocer recently reported that a whooping 62% of shoppers actively look for this logo when making a purchase decision.

Yet many brands are now proudly Fairtrade. This has become a minimum standard to shoppers rather than a differentiator. So, what does make shoppers buy one brand over another?

Front of pack is your comms tool

Packaging is the one tool that brands have to interact with shoppers at point of purchase and I believe this is where brands miss a trick. For a brands ethical positioning and purpose to mean anything to a shopper, the tangible impact of their purchase should sit boldly on the front of pack. This is what will differentiate a brand and spur a shopper to purchase one brand over another.

Here are 3 brands that are doing just this.

Flawsome save imperfect fruit to fight food waste

1. Flawsome Drinks

Flawsome is a perfect example. Their mission is to end food waste. They want to encourage shoppers to champion wonky fruit over perfectly aesthetic ones and make them see that wonky fruit can still make deliciously tasty juices.

To date, Flawsome has saved over 640 tonnes of wonky produce from waste and each bottle proudly states how much fruit a shopper has saved by buying a Flawsome juice. It’s brilliant. A shopper can directly make a correlation, in-store at point of purchase, between their action and reducing food waste. It makes buying the juice a no brainer.

2. Tony’s Chocolonely

Every bite of Tony’s Chocolonely helps combat slavery

Tony’s Chocolonely’s mission is to make 100% slave free chocolate the norm and it’s proud as punch on the front of their pack. Granted, the sticker is small, however shoppers can clearly make a connection between their purchase and seeking to end slavery within the chocolate supply chain. Shoppers know, in-store, exactly why they are paying a price premium for the bar and exactly how Tony’s Chocolonely differentiates itself from other Fairtrade chocolate bar options. Shoppers can align their values with the brands – no doubt why the brand is witnessing some awesome growth.

Open Water protects its namesake from plastic destruction

3. Open Water

Open Water’s mission is plastic free oceans and that’s exactly what it says proudly on the front of their bottle. The brand name and physical package embodies their purpose exactly.  With a multitude of bottled water for shoppers to choose from on shelf, Open Water communicates, at point of sale, how the brand can help the shopper make an ethical purchase decision and change their behaviour for the greater good of the planet.

There are many great brands out there today that combine commercial sense with the greater good. Brands shouldn’t however leave it to their out-of-store activity, which can have limited budgets, or to limited editions to make shoppers aware of their purpose. Brands that make their front of pack work hard at point of purchase directly speak to the values of shoppers. These brands are differentiating themselves and building trust and loyalty accordingly.