October 23, 2014

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The New Consumer Tribe: Revolutionizing Brands and Scaling Sustainability?

New consumers want less. Can you find a way to help them share, rent or borrow?


By Alicia Korten

Driving home to D.C. from New York last week, my husband and I were reflecting on how great it is to finally feel we are in the mainstream of collective thought.

Most of our lives we've cared about global warming, organic food, personal growth, alternative medicine, organizational culture. But we've also for the longest time, felt like we're part of a fringe culture. A friend solidifed this feeling by saying to me years ago, "I'm glad someone cares about these things."

But it seems like the long journey has finally started to push our beliefs into the mainstream.

Today, we feel like we are a part of a huge tribe that shares our values. And that feeling was confirmed by the recent BBMG report Unleashed: How New Consumers Will Revolutionize Brands and Scale Sustainability.

Here are the report's key takeaways for reaching the 70 million new consumers in the U.S.:

1: Deliver Total Value: The New Consumer Wants It All

You need to show that your product provides a triple value proposition. It's practical (i.e. great style, economical, durable). It's social and environmental (i.e. local, fair, sustainable). And it's tribal (i.e. connects the conscious consumer to a community that supports his or her values).

2: Paint the Big Picture: Conscious Consumers Are Asking What's in It for Us?

Your product needs to show the story behind the brand. New consumers want to know not just how your product is helping them, but also how it's helping a larger community. How does your brand connect them to a larger we? Video: The llamas behind Eileen Fisher fabrics

3: Be Their Champion: Conscious Consumers Are Taking Control

Help them do it themselves. In today's independent world, new consumers are designing their own clothes, fixing their own homes, growing their own food. Give them the tools that empower them to build a community that supports their needs.

4: Make More Out of Less: Conscious Consumers Want Simplicity and Meaning

New consumers want less. Can you find a way to help them share, rent or borrow? Think Zipcar, Capital Bikeshare, and community-supported agriculture. Help them feel the freedom of fewer possessions and bring them into a community that provides meaning to their lives.

5: Invite Them In: Participation is the New Consumption

With social media on the rise, the new consumer wants -- and demands -- to be a part of your brand's world. They are giving their opinions on products, policies and practices. Instead of avoiding embarrassing Yelp! reviews, embrace the trend, and find ways to invite the conscious consumer to co-create your brand.

In the new world, it's about living your values and bringing people into your brand community. Your employees, your partners and your consumers want to feel like part of a tribe.

Company culture drives the tribe, the story and ultimately your brand value. But perhaps, BBMG's Raphael Bemporad has the final word: "Culture is the future of branding."

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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